Romantic Duck à l’Orange for Two

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valentines duck recipe

If you’re trying to be extra romantic for Valentine’s day this year, there’s still time! Especially if you are like many other long-term couples and don’t celebrate necessarily on V-day. This year, our Valentine’s dinner is coming the weekend after, even though we show our appreciation for each other every day.

I always say that food tastes best made with love, and this duck à l’orange is about as fancy and romantic as it gets.

Made with tangy blood oranges, this duck à l’orange has a beautiful golden brown skin and glamorous sheen.

I served mine on a bed of rainbow roasting potatoes, for an delicious (not to mention pretty) side dish to the duck.

Duck is a very fatty bird, so it needs some extra love when it comes to properly preparing it for cooking. To ensure a crispy skin, you’ll want as much of the fat out of the duck as possible – and the easiest way to do this is to score the skin.

You’ll want to cut through the skin only, not into the breast meat, so use a sharp knife and cut gently.

Rub the dry herbs into the duck skin, so that the cuts are well distinguished and all of the skin is completely covered in herbs.

Pop it into the oven at 475 F and bake for about twenty minutes. This will help kick start the browning process and later result in a golden, crispy skin.

While the duck cooks, prepare the blood orange and chicken broth that covers the duck (if you have duck stock, even better!).

Remove the duck from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 F. Pour on the blood orange sauce and return the duck to the oven. Let it roast, uncovered, for another hour to an hour and a half.

I removed the duck from the oven every thirty minutes or so to drain out the excess juices.

The next secret to a golden, crispy duck skin is the caramelized orange glaze. To start, pour some sugar into a large sauce pan over high heat.

Monitor the sugar closely so it doesn’t burn, but don’t stir too often.

After a few minutes, the sugar will start to caramelize and clump up.

And after about five minutes, the sugar will be almost completely melted. Continuously stir at this point, and then reduce the heat to prevent the caramel from overcooking.

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, vinegar and spices…

…then QUICKLY AND CAREFULLY pour the orange juice mixture into the caramelized sugar. This will make a LOT of steam, so be very careful.

If you have a fan, put that puppy on high speed. Once the steam and bubbling has reduced, you’ll be left with something like this:

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

Again, 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.

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

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!

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.

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!).

Happy Valentine’s Day!

valentines duck recipe

Romantic Duck à l’Orange for Two

The Starving Chef
I always say that food tastes best made with love, and this duck à l'orange is about as fancy and romantic as it gets.
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 dried marjoram, thyme, 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 used 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. **Every 20-30 minutes, tilt the pan to drain excess fat and juices.**
  • Let the duck cook 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 sauce pot over high heat, melt the sugar until caramelized. To do this, pour in the sugar and let set until crumbly, stirring occasionally. As the sugar continues to melt, stir more frequently so it doesn't burn. Stir until the sugar has turned into a liquid caramel.
  • Pour in the orange juice mixture. It will sputter and steam, so do this VERY CAREFULLY. Continuously stir the sauce until the caramel has melted into the liquid to form a thick sauce.
  • Pour out the excess juice, but this time, pour it into a large pour or jar. Let the fats set and then skim off the golden liquid layer on top. You will need about 1/4 cup 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 will be about 120 F – 130 F internally at this point – not quite ready (internal temperature will be 135 F for a rare duck, 140 F for medium, and 160 F-170 F for well done). 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 kiss, and enjoy!
Keyword duck, orange, sauce, Valentine’s
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