If regular readers wonder why I make so many game recipes at this time of the year, the answer is that living as we do in the Suffolk countryside, we have a number of generous friends who keep us supplied with pheasants, partridges, rabbits, pigeons and even venison. I like game and I’ve never been one to turn down free food, so it finds its way onto our plates on a regular basis.
Recently our friend James turned up with a brace of wild ducks. One went into the freezer for our future delectation and delight and the other made a princely Saturday night supper. I cooked it with a sauce made from three different types of orange: Seville, sweet and mandarin. If you leave out the Seville, you might like to add a squeeze of lemon juice.
I roasted our duck for 45 minutes. It left the oven quite rare but was well done by the time it had rested. If you prefer yours more pink, reduce the cooking time accordingly. If you can’t be bothered with a whole duck, wild or tame, try the sauce with a couple of duck breasts cooked like this.
There’s not a huge amount of meat on a wild duck but ours still stretched to three meals for two people – roasted, the leftovers cooked up in a risotto and the carcass simmered with vegetables and herbs to make a stock which I turned into a Chinese-inspired noodle soup (recipe coming soon).
Wild Duck with Three Oranges
Ingredients for the duck:
1 wild duck
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Seville orange and 2 sweet oranges
50 ml orange liqueur
100 ml dry Marsala (or medium sherry or an off-dry white wine)
100 ml chicken or duck stock
Beurre manié made by mashing together 1 tbsp of flour with an equal quantity of softened butter
2 Mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented
For the cabbage and bacon:
180-200g of Savoy cabbage, coarsely shredded
3 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 230C/450F/Gas Mark 8.
Squeeze the Seville and sweet oranges, reserve the juice and stuff the duck with 3-4 of the squeezed orange halves. Season with salt and pepper and place on a rack in a roasting tray.
Roast the duck for around 45 minutes, see above. Pour off any fat from the roasting tray. There won’t be much on a wild duck but it’s good for roasting potatoes.
Now pour the orange liqueur over the duck and set it alight. Don’t burn off all the liquid as it adds a necessary sweetness to the sourness of the sauce.
When the flames have died down, put the duck breast-side down on a plate and keep warm. Pour the Marsala/sherry/wine, the stock and the reserved orange juice into the roasting tin and de-glaze the pan, scraping all the tasty brown bits off the bottom. You may need to sieve it if you want a clear sauce. Heat and reduce in volume by a half.
Whisk in blobs of the beurre manié until the sauce reaches your preferred thickness and check the seasoning.
Meanwhile steam the cabbage until it’s tender. Cut the bacon into lardons and cook in a hot pan so the fat runs and the bacon is starting to crisp. Toss the drained cabbage with the bacon and bacon fat and season to taste.
To serve, gently heat the mandarin segments in the sauce, carve the duck and arrange on a heated serving dish, pouring the sauce over. Serve the cabbage alongside. Good with roast potatoes.