Duck L’Orange (dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free)

I love duck, its my favorite poultry.  This Thanksgiving, now that I’m alone and this being my first holiday without my husband, I didn’t want to do the traditional Thanksgiving feast that would give me more leftovers than I could possible eat so I decided, when I saw them in Whole Foods the other day, to cook myself a whole duck.  I usually stick to duck breasts (see recipe under Entrees) but I’ve had duck l’orange several times and really enjoyed it but it’s so sweet the issue was how to do it without the sugar.  Here’s what I did. You’ll have to forgive me for not including an image; I got so excited about this that I cut it up before taking a photo!  And it was delicious – the skin was so crunchy and full of flavor thanks to the spice mix and the meat so juicy and flavorful.  I served it along with creamed onions and peas and a wild rice and quinoa stuffing which was really good with the orange sauce (see side dishes for both these recipes). Makes 2 generous servings.

You’ll need for the duck:

  • 4-6 pound duck
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 orange cut in half
  • 1 large onion cut in eighths
  • fresh thyme sprigs
  • fresh marjoram sprigs
  • 1 cup stock, chicken or if you can find it, duck
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 stalks of celery
  • a large baking pan, preferably with high sides to reduce fat spattering
  • gravy separator if you have one
  • meat thermometer

You’ll need for the orange sauce:

  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • dash of salt
  • 1/4 cup stock
  • 1 tablespoon vegan margarine
  • 1 tablespoon gluten-free flour (all purpose or brown rice works best)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.  Prepare the duck by cleaning out the cavity and drying the skin.  Mix the salt, coriander, cumin, pepper and dry thyme.  Rub the outside of the duck with the spice mixture and sprinkle some inside as well.  Add 1/2 of the orange , 4 wedges of onion, the springs of thyme and marjoram to the cavity.  Place the cleaned celery, carrots and other 4 wedges of onion in the baking dish in a line so that they raise the duck off the bottom of the pan (we’re using them like a baking rack).  Put the duck in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes (you might want to be sure to turn on your overhead exhaust while you’re doing this to avoid the smoke alarm going off like it did in my house even though I didn’t see any smoke).  While the duck is searing, mix together the juice of the other 1/2 orange with the 1 cup of stock.  

After 20-30 minutes, reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and add the stock mixture to the bottom of the pan.  Continue to cook for approximately 1-1/2 hours until duck reaches 170 degrees internal temperature in one of the thighs using a meat thermometer.  Remove from oven and baking dish.  Be sure to tilt when removing from the dish so that the internal juices can run into the baking dish.  Carefully pour the baking dish juices into the gravy separator.  While the duck is cooking make the sauce.

In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice and honey along with the vinegar, salt, orange rind and stock.  Simmer until the duck is cooked.  Add duck juices drained from the baking dish without the fat.  If you don’t have a gravy separator, using a spoon, remove the fat from the top of the juices.  If the duck juices don’t equal 1 cup, add stock to make up the difference. 

Mix together the margarine and flour into a paste.   Add to the simmering sauce using a whisk so that you don’t get any lumps.  Continue cooking sauce until thickened, only a couple of minutes.  Its now ready to serve.

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