Readers know I’m a huge fan of duck and I’m so fortunate that it is both readily available and incredibly affordable here in Belgium.We actually don’t eat it all that often but when we do, it is always a huge hit. And once again, that was the case with my take on the ultimate duck recipe–duck a l’orange—which I adapted from Bon Appetite .
Despite its fancy reputation, duck a l’orange is incredibly easy to make. The orang sauce can be made ahead of time then reheated before adding in the butter, orange zest and orange slices. And depending upon your preference, searing your duck breasts can be done in a matter of minutes. Just be sure to use a heavy skillet- I like to use my trust cast iron one– and start with a cold pan. This way you’ll get both a better sear and more delicious pan drippings.
For an extra special treat serve alongside duck fat roasted potatoes. After all, half of the reason for eating duck in my house is to make these potatoes with the drippings.
DUCK A L’ORANGE
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons Sherry wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 tablespoon Grand Marnier, or other orange flavored liqueur
4 large oranges
2 1-pound boneless, skin on duck breast halves,
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons grated orange peel
- Stir sugar and water in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.
- Increase heat and boil until the syrup turns deep amber, occasionally swirling the pan,for about 8 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the vinegar (mixture will bubble vigorously).
- Add the orange juice and shallots; boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
- Add in the orange liqueur and return the syrup to a boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Using a paring knife, cut off peel and white pith from the oranges.
- Working over bowl, cut between membranes to release segments. Set aside.
- With a small knife, score the duck skin (do not pierce meat) in a crosshatch pattern. Sprinkle duck with the salt, pepper and garlic powder.
- Place the duck, skin side down in a cold heavy skillet. Turn the temperature to medium low and render the fat, cooking the duck until the skin is brown and crisp, about 12-15 minutes.
- Turn the duck and continue to cook until the meat is to your desired liking, about 10 minutes longer for medium-rare.
- Transfer the duck to a cutting board and allow to stand for ten minutes before slicing. Save the rendered duck fat for another use.
- Meanwhile, return the sauce to a simmer.
- Add the butter and 1 tablespoon of the grated orange peel, whisking just until the butter melts.
- Drain the reserved orange segments and stir them into the sauce.
- Arrange the sliced duck breast on a patter and spoon the orange slices and sauce over the top. Serve immediately.
With their tangy orange appeal, crepe Suzettes are a classic. And while they may seem to be intimidating to make, they reality is that they are quite simple. As I’ve discussed before, making the actual crepes takes some practice but once you have perfected your technique, the options as to how you dress these paper thin pancakes are unlimited. And crepe Suzettes are one of my favorites.
For the crepes:
1 cup cold water
1 cup milk
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
- Place all of the ingredients in a blender and puree for 1 minutes. Alternatively, place all of the ingredients in a large deep bowl and use a stick blender to puree for 1 minute.
- Cover and allow to sit for at least two hours or overnight.
- When you are ready to cook the crepes, pre-heat a 6″ crepe pan over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes. When the pan is hot, lightly spray it with cooking spray.
- Lift the pan off of the direct heat. Using a small ladle (a gravy ladle is perfect) place a heaping spoonful of batter in the center of the pan and swirl to evenly coat the bottom of the pan.
- Return the pan to the stove and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the edges of the crepe begin to curl and small bubbles form on the top of the crepe.
- Lift the pan off of the heat again and give the pan a firm shake to release the crepe. If it sticks return the pan to the heat again for a few more seconds.
- Gently flip the crepe with the shake of your wrist. Return the pan to the heat and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Turn the pan upside down over a plate to remove the crepe and repeat the process until all of the batter has been used.
Yields 25-30 6 inch crepes (you will have plenty left over)
For the orange sauce:
Juice from 4 oranges
Finely grated zest from 1 orange
1 small lemon, juice an finely grated zest
1 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Grand Marnier liqueur
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Extra Grand Marnier, for flaming (optional)
- Stirring occasionally, combine the orange and lemon juices, the zests and the sugar in a small saucepan set over medium high heat.
- Once the mixture is hot but not simmering, stir in the Grand Marnier and butter and mix until melted and combined.
- Move the sauce to a wide, shallow bowl. (A pasta plate works well for this).
- Working with one crepe at a time, dip the crepe into the sauce, coating it on all sides.
- Allow the excess liquid to drip back into the bowl before moving the crepe to a plate and folding in half then half again. Move the folded crepe to a platter.
- Repeat the process with the remaining crepes.
- If you want to flame your crepes, heat a small amount of Grand Marnier in a metal ladle. When the alcohol is hot light it with a match and pour the flame over the top of the platter of crepes.
- Serve immediately, topped with additional sauce if desired.
I drink wine year around. As a rule I prefer red to white any day but depending on the meal a rich red or a crisp white is the perfect accompaniment to food. During the cooler months a warm and spicy gluhwein hits the spot. Gluhwein, or mulled wine, is a staple at Christmas markets throughout Europe and as I’ve discovered, each county–or region for that matter–puts their own twist on this winter staple. Some may be spicier and others may be sweeter. Regardless of the ingredients, each cup is sure to please. However, hot wine doesn’t excite me during the summer months. Hot weather calls for something lighter and cooler so for this wine drinker, that means sangria. As my recent trip to Spain showed me, there are just as many varieties of sangria as there are gluhwein. Within the greater Madrid area alone I sampled sangria that was sweet or spicy or sometimes both. And this was just the versions made with red wine.
I’ve long had a favorite sangria recipe. My red wine version includes oranges, lemons, and limes making for a citrus filled and refreshing drink. (Be on the lookout for my white wine version later this summer!) This recipe calls for a single liter of red wine but the recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, or more depending upon the size of your crowd. Any dry red wine works for this recipe. If you like it, use it. For larger quantities I used to use Trader Joe’s infamous “Two Buck Chuck” since it was drinkable without being too expensive. (Save your really good wine for drinking as is). Back in our Norfolk, Virginia days I would mix up a cooler full of sangria for our annual Belvedere block party. As the summer wore on I’d make up the same amount to enjoy during our long lazy weekends on our boat. Regardless of the quantity you make, the longer it sits the stronger it becomes. You can easily dilute it by adding more juice or ice. However you make it or where ever you drink it, it is sure to refresh. To me, sangria is the ultimate summer drink.
RED WINE SANGRIA
1 liter dry red wine
1/4 cup (or more) white sugar, depending on taste
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup Triple Sec or other orange liqueur
- Thoroughly scrub the rinds of the fruit to remove any waxes. Thinly slice the fruit taking care to remove any seeds.
- Place the fruit in a large pitcher. Add the sugar and using a wooden spoon, muddle to combine the sugar and fruit.
- Pour the wine, juice, and liqueur over the fruit; stir to combine.
- Let the sangria sit in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
- Before serving, add ice to the pitcher.