Stellar Spiced Orange Duck
When I was growing up in NYC in the ’60s, my dad would take me out every week for roast duck at any of the half dozen amazing Czech and Eastern European restaurants that helped define the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan for generations. Those days are gone: The German, Czech and Polish restaurants that served some of the best traditional comfort food in the city are no more. It took me years and many trips overseas to figure out how to replicate the spiced orange duck that was so popular when I was a kid. It was fancy food back then, for sure. This recipe is easier than it looks, and the results are stellar every time. It’s foolproof.
Duck a l'Orange
- 4 star anise
- 2 tablespoons caraway seeds
- 1 quart fresh orange juice
- Two 5-pound Pekin (Long Island) ducklings
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 cups duck stock, veal stock, chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
- 1 shallot, minced
- 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- Sherry vinegar
- Sea salt
Active: 30 min
Total Time: 3 hrs, plus 2 days marinating and drying
Make the Duck
In a small dry skillet, toast the star anise and caraway seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer the spices to a spice grinder and let cool completely, then grind to a powder. In a pot large enough to hold both ducks in a single layer, whisk the spices into the orange juice.
Prick the ducks all over with a sharp fork and loosen the skin with your fingers. Place the ducks in the pot and massage them with the marinade. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 8 hours.
Remove the ducks from the marinade and pat dry inside and out; discard the marinade. Set the ducks on a rack set over a roasting pan and refrigerate uncovered for 24 hours. Remove the ducks from the refrigerator 2 hours before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Roast the ducks for about 2 1/2 hours, until the skin is deeply golden and crisp: Every 45 minutes, tilt the ducks over a bowl to drain the liquid from the cavities, then replace them on the rack. Prick the skin to release the fat and baste the ducks with the fat in the pan.
Meanwhile, Make the Sauce
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat and cook until lightly caramelized. Stir in the stock, orange juice, Grand Marnier, shallot, orange zest, cloves and cinnamon (it will bubble a lot). Simmer over moderate heat until the sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes. Season with sherry vinegar and sea salt. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and serve with the duck.