In Pittsburgh there is a store called Wholey’s located in the city’s Strip District. While it is first and foremost a fish market (every type of fish imaginable is there and at excellent prices too) they also sell meats and poultry. When I decided to make duck a’l’orange in honor of my parents’ visit, I thought Wooley’s would be sure to have duck breasts since they sell rabbit and I just don’t know many Pittsburgh people that eat rabbit. So one day last week I walked down to Wholey’s and sadly found no duck breasts, only whole frozen ducks which I just was not at all interested in (sorry Julia-mentally I was not up for de-boning a duck among other things). While I did contemplate just forgoing the duck altogether and using chicken breasts instead, I persevered and found (expensive) duck breasts at the more gourmet version of the local supermarket chain here in Pittsburgh.
I like duck a lot so much in fact that I selected it as one of our two entrees at our wedding reception. My mom likes it a ton too so I knew it would be well received. While I didn’t make Julia’s version, my The Book of French Provincial Cooking offered a worthy version that came out terrific. The orange sauce was delicious and it’s a recipe I’ll be sure to try again in the future. I served it with sauteed asparagus (cooked in butter and lemon) and pine nut couscous with raisins.
Duck with Orange
2 boneless duck breasts, each weighing 6 oz.
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Cointreau (this is a liqueur)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Orange twists and thyme sprigs, to garnish
Using a sharp knife, score skin and fat on duck breasts in a crisscross pattern, taking care not to cut through flesh. Season with salt and pepper and rub with thyme.
Heat a heavy skillet over medium to high heat, add duck, skin side down, and cook 10 to 12 minutes, reducing heat a little if skin becomes too brown. Turn duck over and cook five minutes, or to taste. Transfer duck to a warmed plate and keep warm.
Meanwhile, remove 1-1/2 tablespoons zest from oranges. Add to a small pan of boiling water and blanch 2 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water and set aside. Squeeze juice from oranges. Pour most of fat from skillet. Stir cornstarch into pan, then add orange and lemon juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil, stirring, then add Cointreau, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and whisk in butter. Slick duck, arrange on serving plates and add sauce.
Makes 2 servings