Posted by: vlibrizzi | June 11, 2009

Canard a l’orange avec Denise

IMG_2717This afternoon, my French neighbor, Denise, who I have been blogging about a lot lately, invited me over to her house to cook canard a l’orange with her. We had a great time cooking together and I learned so much from her! She has led a pretty amazing life and is an awesome chef! 

I thought you polly readers might like to make the canard a l’orange too so I have attached the recipe and some photos I took this afternoon below. If you do decide to make it, let me know how it turns out. 

Bon appetit!!


Canard a l’orange en magret avec figues (chez Denise)

IMG_2718Prep time: 15 minutes (but a lot can be done the day before and just stuck in the fridge)

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 4 -6 people 





1 magret of duck (duck breast with fat on one side) per person

2-3 oranges (depending on how much sauce you want to make) plus two more for decoration around the plate if you’d like

1 cup of orange juice

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon of water

2-4 tablespoons of olive oil

1 teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with a little water

4 figues

salt and pepper to taste

salad to garnish the plate (preferably watercress)


IMG_27111) Prepare Orange sauce. First, zest two oranges, cut the zest with scissors (as you can see Denise doing in the photo to the left), and then put zest aside. Then, remove the white part of the oranges with a knife and throw away. Finally, cut the oranges “a vif” (this is the trickiest part of the recipe) and put the sections into a separate bowl with the remaining orange juice. To cut an orange “a vif,” what you must do is take out the pulpy parts of the orange without the stringy part that holds each of the orange slices together. Remove and throw away the stringy casing and put the pulpy orange part in a bowl with the juice. 

2) Boil zests. Put the orange zests that you have cut into small strings into a cup of boiling water. Remove after a minute. 

IMG_27123) Prepare the caramel sauce. Choose a small, heavy pan to make some caramel using three tablespoons of sugar and one tablespoon of water. Let the caramel simmer and turn brown on medium heat (see photo to the left of the sauce bubbling, and the photo below of the sauce fully browned and ready to add orange ingredients). 


4) Add orange sauce to caramel sauce. Once the caramel has browned, add the boiled orange zest, the oranges cut “a vif” and the orange juice to the caramel sauce. Add cornflour that has been mixed with water to thicken the sauce. Let cook for a minute or so while constantly stirring, making sure not to let the caramel burn. Then, immediately remove from heat and put in a separate dish.

5) Cook the magrets de canard. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a hot, heavy pan on medium-high heat. Then put the duck breasts on the pan on the meat side (not the fat size). After a two to three minutes, turn them over to the fat side and add salt and pepper on top. Let cook for 10 minutes. The skin of the duck breast must be roasted and the meat still pinkish (one note: the French like their canard much more rare than we do in the US so perhaps you might like to cook the duck a bit longer than the recipe suggests. But, make sure the duck breast is at least a little pink in the center. According to Denise, you never want to cook your duck, or anything in France, until it is well done.)

6) Cook figs: Cut figues in half lengthwise and place in the saucepan that you used to make the orange sauce. Let cook on one side for a minute or so and then switch sides. Then place a lid on top of the pot and let figs  steam for four to five minutes on low heat. Check every once in awhile to make sure they are not burning. 

IMG_27157) Prepare decoration. While the duck breasts are cooking, cut the two remaining oranges into small half-moon slices and place the slices around the edge of your serving plate (see photo to the left). Then, add a bunch of watercress (or any type of green leafy lettuce) to the center of the serving platter. 



IMG_27168) Serve. Once duck is finished cooking, cut into slices and arrange them around the watercress on the plate. Surround the duck with the cooked figs and then cover the duck breast, figes, and watercress salad with the orange caramel sauce. Serve immediately

Wine serving suggestion: According to Denise, one must never eat canard with a strong red wine. She found a really light French red wine (see photo to the left) from Saint Pourcain and suggests using a wine from that region (near the Massif Central). 



  1. Hi Val,
    Looks good. Say hi to C. As he is now known as. Hope all is well. Congrats on the graduation? School in coming to a close here. Finals are next week. It does not seem like summer is almost upon us though. All the rain we have had has not allowed us any sun. So it feels more like Fall. I hear that you will be in NJ for a bit this summer. Let me know if you will be in Boston at all. We will be in NJ for a weekend in July and one in August.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: