One of the interesting sights when travelling through the Perigord, in southern France, is the large flocks of free range ducks and geese in the fields. In the town and village markets there are ducks for sale in every form : whole ducks ready for the oven, duck breasts, duck pate, confit of duck, even preserved duck gizzards!
In the United Kingdom free range ducks are harder to find, but we do have a local supplier of top quality ducks here at Top Meadow Farm. Ducks are a fine meat with a rich, aromatic flavour, and are perfect in this classic French dish.
You will need a large duck for this recipe. Roast in the oven in the normal way, seasoning well with salt and pepper, and pricking the breasts lightly with a fork before cooking to release the fat and ensure that the skin is crispy.
While the duck is cooking, clarify a large chopped onion in a little oil or butter in a pan. When clarified add a quantity of button mushrooms. Squeeze the juice from two large oranges and a lemon and add to the pan together with two spoonfuls of orange marmalade and a small glass of Cointreau or some other orange liqueur that you have available. Allow to bubble away for a couple of minutes.
When the duck is roasted to perfection, put aside to rest. Pour away the majority of the fat from the roasting dish for future use, as duck fat produces excellent roast potatoes! Add the remaining duck juices to the sauce mix in the pan. You may want to raise the caramelised juices at the bottom of the roasting dish and add these to the sauce as well. Only do this if they are a golden colour. Do not use if blackened as this will add a bitter flavour. Bring the sauce to the boil, thickening with a little cornflour.
Serve the duck, decorated with slices of orange, with French fries and peas or a green salad with the rich orange sauce at the side.
This classic French provincial dish is easy to cook and the sweet citrus sauce compliments the rich, succulent and tasty duck meat to perfection.