Most of us cannot wait to get 2016 behind us. It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a year and even the last few days show no slow down in the momentum of terrible and/or surprising events. While traditionally Christmas is a time to hold your nearest and dearest close, this year we are gripping them rather tightly near. With that in mind, 2017 will be celebrated by many, if only with the hope that things will be better than last year. Bring back boring (please)!
One much discussed topic, outside of tragic world events, amongst my nearest and dearest is what to cook for New Year’s Eve. While there are dishes said to bring good fortune by the superstitious, I am aiming for last meal material (although I suspect my chances of imminent demise are slim given I am not a pop star between the ages of 50 and 60.) This is not the year to start dieting just after Christmas. Let the feasting continue until the safe side of 2017.
While duck a l’orange is usually associated with French cooking, the recipe has existed since the 15th century in Tuscany. Some scholars believe the dish may be Florentine in origin. Being an exceptionally tolerant and open-minded eater, I care not its origin so long as it is delicious. And it is! The tangy yet sweet orange sauce cuts through the fat of the luscious duck meat. Wishing you happiness, love and good health in 2017! Happy New Year!
Anatra con arance (duck a l’orange) – Toscana
Traditionally in Tuscany, the duck is cut up and cooked in the orange. I roast the duck whole to have a more dramatic presentation. If your duck is a different size, use 30 minutes of roasting per kilo. Serve with mashed potatoes or boiled new potatoes. For step-by-step illustrated instructions, click here.
30 mls extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 2.5 kilo duck
4 oranges with their leaves (preferably organic)
50 grams sugar
40 ml red wine vinegar
160 ml stock (duck, chicken or meat)
1/2 lemon, juiced
10 grams butter
Black pepper, freshly ground
Heat the oven to 225C (450F). Add a tray of water to the bottom of the oven. Season the duck inside and out with salt and pepper and prick the skin all over with a fork.
Stuff the orange leaves inside the duck.
Heat the olive oil in a metal roasting pan. When hot add the ducks and turn to brown all over.
Place a rack on the bottom of the pan and place the duck breast-down on top. Cook in the oven for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, zest one of the oranges. Juice two of the oranges. Segment the remaining two oranges.
Place the sugar in a small sauce pan with 20 ml of water. Heat the sugar water together until the sugar dissolves. Continue cooking until the sugar caramelises to a golden brown colour. Swirl the pan around to ensure it browns evenly. Add the vinegar and the orange juice and cook until reduced by half. Add the stock, a pinch of salt and zest and cook until reduced and thick, about 15 minutes. Set aside until the duck is ready.
Turn the duck over so it is breast side up and cook for another 15 minutes or until 75C (165F) in the thickest part of the leg or breast. Remove from the oven and tent with a piece of foil. Let the duck rest for 20 minutes.
While the duck is resting, reheat the orange juice combination and add the lemon juice, the segmented oranges and the butter. Stir to combine. Carve the duck and serve with the orange sauce.