Duck Breast in Clementine-Orange Sauce

I made up this recipe to use some duck breasts, oranges and clementines that had accumulated in the fridge. It turned out to be a keeper. The technique of pan broiling the duck breasts comes from Debra Ponzek's book, French Cooking, American Style, and it is as foolproof as any method I know. If you want to impress someone, you can flambé it with the Cointreau, but the last time I did that it set off the smoke detector.

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 duck breasts (4 halves)
  • zest of 1 orange cut into thin julienne strips
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 clementines, broken into segments (use tangerine or orange segments if clementines are not available)
  • 1/3rd cup Cointreau (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • preheat the oven to 400 degrees

    Separate the duck breasts into halves and trim away extraneous fat. With a sharp knife, score the skin side of the breasts diagonally to form a diamond pattern. Season well with salt and pepper.

    Heat the olive oil in a heavy, oven-proof skillet until smoking.and add the duck breasts, skin side down, Sauté for 2 minutes over high heat. Pour off the fat, and put the skillet with the duck breasts (still skin side down) in the oven for 9 minutes. Turn breasts over, and return the skillet to the oven for a minute. Remove skillet from oven, Set breasts aside in a warm place on a plate covered loosely with aluminum foil. Discard fat. Deglaze with white wine and reduce by half,then add orange juice and boil slowly for 10 or so minutes to reduce to about 2/3rds cup. Add orange zest, clementine sections, and any juices that have accumulated around the duck breasts and boil gently for a couple of minutes. If you want to get fancy, add Cointreau and flambé.

    Slice each breast diagonally into 5-6 thin slices, and nap with sauce. A vegetable couscous or wild rice is a good accompaniment.