Romantic Duck à l’Orange for Two

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valentines duck recipe

What’s Up, Hungry People

If you’re eyeing a grand romantic gesture for Valentine’s Day—or any day that spells love for you and yours—let me tell you, timing is not a tyrant. For those of us who’ve been riding the love rollercoaster for more than a minute, marking the occasion doesn’t have to sync with the calendar. This year, our nod to Cupid’s arrow is slated for the weekend post-Valentine’s, proof that love, much like fine wine, doesn’t fret over dates.

I’m a firm believer in the mantra that the best meals are those seasoned with love. And let me introduce you to the epitome of culinary romance: duck à l’orange. It’s not just a dish; it’s a statement. A fancy, love-infused, flavor-packed statement.

valentines french recipe

Crafted with the zesty charm of blood oranges, this dish boasts a duck that wears its golden brown skin like a medal, draped in a glamorous sheen that’s nothing short of a showstopper.

To accompany this masterpiece, I laid down a bed of rainbow roasting potatoes. It’s not just a side; it’s a colorful, delectable complement that elevates the whole ensemble.

ingredients for duck l'orange

Here’s What You Need:

  • Whole duck: The star of the dish, providing rich, flavorful meat.
  • Orange juice: Adds sweetness and acidity, enhancing the duck’s flavor.
  • Chicken or duck broth: Used for moisture and to add depth to the sauce.
  • Blood oranges: Offer a tangy, sweet flavor and vibrant color to the dish.
  • Honey or hot honey: Brings sweetness with a kick if using hot honey.
  • White wine vinegar: Adds acidity to balance the sweetness in the sauce.
  • Cumin: Provides a warm, earthy spice note.
  • Marjoram: Offers a sweet, citrusy flavor, complementing the duck.
  • Fresh parsley: Adds freshness and a pop of color.
  • Onion: Gives a slight sweetness and depth to the duck’s cavity flavors.
  • Rainbow roasting potatoes: Optional for a colorful, hearty side.
  • Sugar: Essential for caramelizing and the base of the l’orange sauce.
  • Ginger: Adds a spicy, peppery flavor to the sauce.
  • Duck drippings: Used to enrich the sauce with deep, savory notes.
  • Flour: Thickens the sauce, giving it a glossy, smooth texture.
criss cross duck skin

Let’s Cook!

First things first, we need to get our duck ready for its big moment. Give it a good wash and pat it dry. This isn’t just a quick rinse; you want to make sure it’s as dry as a bone. Why? Because moisture is the enemy of crispy skin, and we’re all about that crunch.

Once it’s dry, score the skin. This means making shallow cuts in a criss-cross pattern. Be careful not to cut into the meat; we’re just after the skin. This isn’t just for looks; it helps the fat render out during cooking, making for an even crispier duck.

Season it inside and out with salt, pepper, and a little magic from your spice cabinet. If you have a favorite spice blend, now’s the time to use it. Just sprinkle it generously over the duck, inside and out.

herb duck

Roasting Time:

Now, onto the roasting. Preheat your oven to a sizzling 350°F (175°C). While it’s getting hot, let’s talk roasting pan. You’ll want to place your duck breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan. This setup allows the fat to drip away and the heat to circulate, giving you that perfect, crispy skin we’re after. Pop it in the oven and let it do its thing for about 1.5 to 2 hours.

You’re aiming for a beautifully golden exterior and juicy interior. The exact time will depend on the size of your duck, so keep an eye on it. About halfway through, give it a check and baste it with its own juices.

squeezing red oranges

As the duck embarks on its transformation, a concoction of blood orange and chicken (or duck, if you’re so inclined) broth awaits its moment to shine. This braising step is not just for flavor; it’s a crucial step in the journey to golden perfection.

pouring sauce over duck

After the initial bake, dial down the heat to 350°F, anoint the duck with its citrusy marinade, and let it bake, uncovered, in the oven for another hour to an hour and a half. Regularly draining the excess juices ensures it stays crisp and lovely.

Pièce de Résistance: Caramelized Orange Glaze

While the duck is living its best life in the oven, let’s get saucy.

Grab a saucepan and start by melting sugar over medium heat. Watch as it turns into a beautiful golden caramel. This is the base of our l’orange sauce, and it’s going to be a game-changer.

melting sugar
clumpy sugar
melted sugar

Once you’ve got your caramel, carefully add in orange juice, vinegar, and your chosen spices.

mix for sauce

Stand back a bit – it’ll sizzle and steam like a mini volcano, but that’s all part of the fun. Stir it well and let it simmer until it thickens into a syrupy masterpiece. This sauce is what’s going to take your duck from “pretty good” to “can I have seconds?”

caramel sauce with orange

Stir until the caramel has completely dissolved into the liquid, leaving a thick, syrupy orange sauce.

You’ll want to be draining the duck of its excess liquid every thirty minutes or so. During the last removal of the liquid, use a strainer and a jar to catch the liquid OR if you don’t have a strainer, let the liquid set then skim off the top, golden layer of juices. You’ll need about 1/2 cup of golden liquid.

creamy caramel sauce

Pour it slowly into the orange sauce and stir until the sauce is silky smooth.

duck orange sauce

At this point, your duck should be getting close to being cooked! It will need about thirty to forty more minutes.

If you mess up the l’orange sauce, you can at least still serve an roasted herbbed duck!

pouring sauce over duck

Just pour on the sauce in a thick, smooth layer. I used enough to cover the duck completely once (about 1 cup of l’orange sauce, about 1/2-3/4 cups left), continued to bake for about ten minutes, then added the remaining sauce for the last of the cooking time.

orange duck recipe

The result is a deliciously golden brown, crispy and sticky skinned duck that is all around sweet (and just a hint of spicy) – plus the potatoes cooked in the duck fat are an added savory bonus.

Serve with a kiss, whenever you decide to celebrate Valentine’s day (or just a fancy date night in!).

red orange duck recipe

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Crafting this duck l’orange might seem like a feat, but it’s really just a few steps between you and a dinner that’s bound to impress. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just spicing up a regular Tuesday night, this dish has got your back. The real beauty of it? Each bite carries a little bit of effort, a dash of love, and a whole lot of flavor. Remember, the kitchen is your playground, and recipes like this are your sandbox. So, go ahead, give it a whirl. After all, the best stories are found between the pages of a well-used cookbook, and the best memories are made when you’re willing to try something new. Enjoy!

valentines duck recipe

Romantic Duck à l’Orange for Two

The Starving Chef
Elevate your dinner game with romantic duck l'orange recipe, where juicy duck meets a zesty orange glaze.
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Course Date Night, Valentine’s Day
Cuisine Date Night, Dinner, Fancy Food, Valentine’s Day
Servings 4



  • 1 whole duck 3-6 lbs
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • ½ cup chicken or duck broth
  • 2 blood orange
  • 3 tablespoons honey or hot honey
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 3 tablespoons marjoram
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 16 oz rainbow roasting potatoes optional


  • cup sugar
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ginger finely minced
  • ¼ cup duck drippings from pan
  • 2 tablespoons flour


  • Preheat the oven to 475°F. Arrange the rainbow roasting potatoes, if using, in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan. In a small bowl, whisk together the marjoram, parsley, and cumin.
  • Gently score the skin of the duck in a crisscross pattern, taking care not to slice into the meat. Pat the duck completely dry then rub in the herb mix so that every part of the duck is covered in herbs.
  • Quarter the onion and use the blood orange rinds. Place them into the cavity of the duck. Secure the tail up between the legs, and tie with cooking twine to keep the cavity closed. Place the duck into the oven and bake for thirty minutes.
  • While the duck cooks, squeeze the blood oranges and collect the juice in a small bowl. Whisk in the white wine vinegar, hot honey, orange juice, and chicken broth.
  • Remove the duck from the oven and reduce the temperature to 350°F. Tilt the pan at a slight angle, taking care to secure the duck, and pour off any excess fats in the roasting pan.
  • Pour the blood orange and broth mixture onto the duck and into its cavity. Place back into the oven and bake for an hour to an hour and a half, tilting the pan every 20-30 minutes to drain excess fat and juices.
  • Let the duck rest for about fifteen minutes before starting the l'orange sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining orange juice, ginger, and white wine vinegar.
  • In a large saucepot over high heat, melt the sugar until caramelized. Pour in the sugar and let set until crumbly, stirring occasionally. As the sugar continues to melt, stir more frequently to prevent burning. Stir until the sugar has turned into a liquid caramel.
  • Carefully pour in the orange juice mixture. It will sputter and steam, so be VERY CAREFUL. Continuously stir the sauce until the caramel has melted into the liquid to form a thick sauce.
  • Pour out the excess juice into a large pour or jar. Let the fats set and then skim off the golden liquid layer on top. You will need about ¼ cup of this liquid.
  • Whisk the flour into the golden liquid until mostly incorporated. Pour the mixture into the orange caramel sauce. Continue to stir until the sauce is smooth and glossy.
  • The duck's internal temperature will be about 120°F – 130°F at this point. Remove the duck from the oven.
  • Pour half of the l'orange sauce onto the duck so it is completely coated. Return to the oven for ten minutes, then pour on the remaining sauce. Cook for another 15-30 minutes, or until the duck has reached 135°F (or your desired doneness). Serve with a smile, and enjoy!
Keyword duck, orange, sauce, Valentine’s
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