Duck Leg a l’Orange Sous-Vide

Sous-vide confit of duck leg is great, but I thought it should also be possible to do a more juicy less flaky texture. Some experimenting with times and temperatures showed me right: 24 hours at 64.5C/148F yielded tender juicy duck legs. Duck with orange is a classic combination from French cuisine, known as Canard à l’Orange. And so a very simple but very stylish and tasty dish was born. Ingredients? Duck legs, an orange, salt and pepper, and a teaspoon of honey. That’s it! The duck is cooked in its own fat. Perfect simplicity or simple perfection?

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

2 duck legs

1 orange, preferably untreated

1 tsp honey

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

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Using a sharp knife, remove the skin from the duck legs. It doesn’t have to come off in one piece.

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Chop the skin.

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Put the chopped skin in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat.

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Wait until the fat has rendered, about 10 minutes.

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Filter out the duck cracklings to obtain the fat.

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Put a container with the duck fat in the freezer until frozen solid (not needed when you have a chamber vacuum sealer).

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Meanwhile, wash and dry the orange and grate the zest.

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Wrap the orange in plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out while the duck is cooking.

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Season the duck legs with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Rub the dug legs with the orange zest and vacuum seal together with the frozen duck fat.

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Cook sous-vide for 24 hours at 64.5C/148F.

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After 24 hours, take the duck legs out of the sous-vide.

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Pour the contents of the sous-vide bag into a tall narrow container. The duck fat will float on top of the duck juices, and the narrow container will make it easier to separate the fat from the juices.

Pat the duck legs dry with paper towels. Squeeze the juice out of the orange.

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Heat the duck fat in a frying pan over high heat. You can carefully pour it off, but it is easier to use a spoon.

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Quickly brown the duck legs in the hot duck fat on both sides over high heat (about 30 seconds per side).

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Once they are brown, add the orange juice.

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Add a teaspoon of honey.

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Add the duck juices from the bag.

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Take the duck legs out of the pan and put them on warm plates. Cook the sauce over high heat, stirring, until it is nice and thick.

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Serve the duck legs with the sauce.

Wine pairing

This pairs well with a full-bodied pinot blanc/bianco, pinot gris/grigio, sylvaner or gewürztraminer (for example from Alsace, Germany or Alto-Adige (Italy)). The wine should preferably not be too dry to go with the honey.

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14 thoughts on “Duck Leg a l’Orange Sous-Vide

  1. That looks wonderful. I love cooked duck, baked duck, essentially duck cooked in any way but mostly I prefer the Duck à l’Orange of yesteryear, Peking Duck, and the more traditional French method: Duck Confit. Your recipe sounds and looks delicious.

    I will be in Amsterdam in August. Have you ever eaten at Envy on Prinsengracht? I had a wonderful dinner there last year. I will also have to visit the Duikelman store that you recommended.

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    1. Hi Clayton,
      Thanks for the nice compliment.
      I’ve never eaten at Envy. I’ve been at their wine bar Vyne, and thought it was good but too expensive for what they offered. It will be very hard not to buy way too much when you visit Duikelman, so consider yourself warned 🙂
      I work in downtown Amsterdam, so if you like we can possibly meet up for a drink after work when you are here in August?
      Also if you like Peking Duck, they make a very good one at Sichuan Food on Reguliersdwarsstraat in Amsterdam. They even had a michelin star for that peking duck once, which they lost for lack of innovation (but the peking duck was still great last time I tried it).

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      1. Yes, Envy is expensive. Luckily a friend picked up the tab. I’ll be in Amsterdam from 15-23 August. That would be great if we could meet for a drink. I also liked Cafe Bistro de Fles. It was a fun place to eat. Actually, Amsterdam has incredibly fun places to eat–from high-end to not-so-high end. Thank you for suggesting Sichuan Food for the Peking Duck.

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  2. Lovely experiment! I must try duck a l’orange again sometime. Years ago, while I was still a teenager at home, I gave it a try and my mother suggested using a brown sauce she had leftover from a beef dish as a base for the sauce…. after we got things underway, my mother suddenly realized that her brown sauce had horseradish in it, which seemed to spell doom but…. weirdly enough, it turned out very nice.

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  3. This looks delicious, Stefan, even if it is sous-vide. 😉 The duck looks so very moist and I bet that sauce was remarkable. I bought a frozen duck with the intent of using Mom’s recipe for duck a l’orange. I should have looked for the recipe first. Now I’ve a duck and still haven’t located that recipe! I’m going to look again today. Being Mothers Day, maybe she’ll guide me to it. 🙂

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    1. Good luck!
      If you can’t find your mom’s recipe, you can always make something up. Duck à l’Orange as I know it only uses the breast. With a whole duck, you could debone it and use everything except the breast and legs to make stock for the sauce. Reduce that stock to 1/5 or less and add it to the pan in which you have cooked the breast after deglazing that with fresh orange juice. Add a tsp of honey and that’s it 🙂 The legs are best when prepared as confit or sous-vide, but for confit you’d need a whole lot of duck fat. You could also try to simmer them in the stock or even in orange juice, but the key is that they need low and slow.

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  4. I made this, exactly to your recipe – it was Superb! Served on moroccan-style couscous – next time I’ll add a side of Bok Choy. Dunno how it compares to a Restaurant Dish, but I was well impressed – Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve just dunked the bags into the water 🙂 I’m a bit short on time though… Will it be ready after 18 hours or should I increase the temperature a bit?

    Thanks Stefan for another great recipe!

    Liked by 1 person

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