Canard à l’Orange and Canard cuit sur Coffre au Poivre Vert, Parmentier de Canard

Lollipop lollipop ooh lolli lolli lolli lollipop lollipop…

Call my baby lollipop
Tell you why
His kiss is sweeter than an apple pie
And when he does his shaky rockin’ dance
Man, I haven’t got a chance

This is the song I started humming when I saw the end result of my duck a l’orange. Everything was going swellingly well; I’d upped my game, racing against time and the others in the classroom to win the “I’m not last again” prize. Swellingly well up until then. After roasting the bird, prepping the sauce, frying the potato criss-cross chips, I’d realised I’d reduced the sauce with la gastrique (caramel and vinegar) and bit too much and got a thick dark paste to glaze over the duck. Brushing a thick gloopy paste on a delicate crisp skin is problematic. I was snagging the skin, close to ripping, so decided to finger paint the duck with the glaze. It was a stupid decision as it took a lot longer to get the whole duck done, and I was trying to conquer time. And I got sticky glaze everywhere. The duck came out black. A glistening, luminous, gleaming black. Such a shame considering I’d been so careful with roasting it till it was a nice golden hue, only to ruin it with a coat of asphalt. At least the Chef and the dishwashers had a bit of a laugh at my expense.

I am a big fan of canard en deux cuissons (duck cooked in two ways). It’s a pretty nifty way to deal with the different cooking times of leg and breast, albeit a bit more cumbersome. But it is so super delicious, especially the slow-braised leg meat, which is then just pulled off the bones and mixed with shallots and/or dry fruit and/or anything to make a mean stuffing. The only stumbling point was the moronic pomme anna. Thin translucent round slices of potatoes, arranged in a spiral pattern in a tiny teflon tart mould, soaked in clarified butter is a bit technical which is why I was most devastated when I was struggling to pull them out after cooking them on the stove top. They were stuck stubbornly to the bottom of the pan, and no matter how carefully I picked and prodded at it, it had already started looking mutilated by a monster.

So with every little failure I try to console myself by thinking, “At least I wasn’t last”. But why bother coming first if it means plating asphalt and tarmac? Is there a happy medium?

Canard a l'Orange - what it should look like. Beautiful.

Canard a l'Orange - and what it shouldn't look like

Canard en Deux Cuissons, Sauce Poivre Vert

Canard à l’Orange
1 whole duck, de-gutted
Bunch of thyme
5 garlic cloves (3 crushed, 2 whole in skin)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 cup orange juice
3 oranges, zest julienned, orange supremed
Dash of cointreau or grande marniere
1/2 onion, paysanne
1/2 carrot, paysanne
1/2L veal or duck stock
White wine, to deglaze
Duck fat, to cook

1. Season the duck’s cavity with salt, pepper, and stuff with thyme and 3 garlic cloves. Trusse.
2. Soak the orange zest in the cointreau or grande marniere.
3. Heat some duck fat in an oven proof pan. Sear the duck on its leg on the side first till the skin is nicely coloured. This will take about 3-4 minutes over a medium heat. Sear on other side, then on its breast and bottom. Place leg way again and brush with butter. Put in the oven to cook at 200C for 35-40 minutes. At 10 minutes of cooking time, flip the duck over to have its other leg on top and baste with butter again. After another ten minutes, flip the duck onto its bottom, baste the breasts on top with butter, and add the onions, carrots and 2 garlic cloves in.
4. After 35-40 minutes is up, check the duck is cooked rosé. Using a fourchette, let the juices run on a ceramic plate to see if it’s slightly pink-brown. Reserve the duck on the ceramic plate flipped bottoms-up, covered with foil in a warm place.
5. Strain the garniture from the pan. Deglaze with white wine. Add in the stock and cook for 15-20 minutes. Strain out the garniture again and return stock to heat. Skim off any fat. Season.
6. In a stainless steel pan, heat 1/2 cup sugar dissolved in a dash of water over medium heat till caramelised. Deglaze with vinegar and then orange juice. This is called la gastrique.
7. Make a glaze of 50% la gastrique and 50% stock and reduce by 20%.
8. Brush the duck with the glaze. Place in oven to re-heat for 5 minutes.
9. Mix the remaining stock with the glaze and reserved orange zest with alcohol marinade to make a sauce. If sauce is too sweet then adjust sweetness with orange juice and salt.
10. Serve the duck with the sauce poured over and orange slices.

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