There is something irresistible about this classic French dish. Perhaps it’s the seductive blend of crispy skin and succulent tender poultry with a sweet citrus infusion that made my taste buds fall under its spell when I first tried it at THE Restaurant gastronomique Lasserre à Paris. But there is no need to break the piggy bank to dine at Michelin starred temples of haute cuisine in Paris (though you should definitely do this at least once in your life). This adaptation is so quick and easy to make at home that you can indulge in its tangy, rich goodness as much and as often as you can. Bon Appétit!

seared duck breast with sweet orange sauce (le canard à l’orange)

serves 2

preparation time: 5 minutes

cooking time: 30 minutes

  • 2 duck breast halves, around 300g  each
  • 2 tablespoon of olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon of minced garlic
  • ½ cup (50ml) sweet Marsala wine (you can also use sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup (50ml) duck or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 4 fresh sage leaves
  • zest from ½ orange, very thinly julienne
  • small bite-size pieces of orange, with pith removed
  • salt and pepper to taste

preparing the duck

Ducks are quite fatty so you will need to shed some of the fat. I finely pierced the skin of the duck breasts with a sharp knife, cutting around 1/2cm into the skin in a crosshatch pattern – be careful not to pierce the meat. This will allow the fat to drain out during cooking. If you like, you can keep the duck fat to use in other dishes. I roasted bite-size pieces of new potatoes in duck fat the other day – they tasted absolutely delish!

searing the duck

1. Season the duck breasts evenly on both sides with salt and pepper. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

2. In a medium sautépan, place the duck breasts, skin side down, in the hot skillet on medium-high heat. Sear the breasts for around 10 minutes or until it the skin is crispy and most of the fat has rendered out.

3. Pour the duck fat from the pan. Turn the breasts over to the other side and place in the hot oven for 10 minutes, until the meat is medium-rare and springy to the touch.

4. Remove the duck breasts from oven, set aside on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

the sauce

5. Add the olive oil to the saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic for around 30 seconds, stirring almost constantly.

6. Add the Marsala and butter to the pan.

7. When the Marsala has been reduced by half, add the orange juice, stock and sage. Bring the sauce to boil, then reduce heat to medium-low.

8. Add the orange zest. Let the sauce simmer for around 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until it becomes syrupy. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.


9. Slice each breast into thin ½cm slices and fan the slices onto a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Place the small pieces of orange on top of the meat. Drizzle the sauce over the breasts and serve with cooked vegetables or a salad.Wine suggestion: a full bodied red with a touch of fruitiness – Côtes du Rhône reds would go nicely with this dish.


wgfoodie May 26, 2021 at 5:03 pm

mmm duck! Goes so perfectly with something sweet.

Camille May 26, 2021 at 6:42 pm

Frankly, I’m shocked that I’ve never had this or tried to make it. I should really rectify that.

Mimi May 27, 2021 at 12:19 am

Let me know how it goes, Camille!

Mimi May 27, 2021 at 6:55 am

Absolutely! Try to get your hands on wild ducks – the meat is more succulent!

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