Cooking With Fire: Duck á l'Orange

Jan 26, 2018

Credit Justin Cary

Duck à l’Orange was once the best known duck recipe in the world. Popularized in the United States by Julia Child, it seemed to be on the menu of every French restaurant in the 1960s.

Over the years the dish’s star power has faded, according to some food experts. But if that is the case, someone forgot to let the rest of the world know.

You see, looking at Google search data the dish itself is still incredibly popular around the world, with the small island nation of New Caledonia leading the way, and with France and Canada also coming in high on the list of some 22 million searches per year.

But why is it a classic at all? Well, it has a lot to do with just how great bitter orange pairs with farm-raised duck meat. In the 16th century the royal families in France began planting orange trees, and the fruit became a staple some time in the 17th century, with recipes using the juice of an orange popping up at the same time.

But it wasn’t until the 19th century, when the book "The French Cook" was published, that the first recipe that called for covering a duck in an orange sauce appeared.

So for over 200 years we have been pairing various orange sauces over duck, and loving it. While a dish may go in and out of fashion, no “food expert” gets to tell you what to put on your dinner table, which is why Chef Tom developed a new recipe for crispy orange-glazed duck breast on the grill. The subtle smoke flavor adds complexity while still allowing the meat to shine through, and the sauce -- well, I could go on and on about the sauce.


Hear Chef Tom and Josh prepare Duck á l'Orange on the grill in this episode of Cooking With Fire:

Duck a l'Orange


  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 cup duck or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tbsp champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp orange liquor
  • 1 1/2 cup orange juice
  • juice of 1 small lemon 
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp orange zest


  1. Preheat your charcoal grill for high heat (400ºF) direct grilling. Place 3-4 fist sized chunks of hickory wood on the coals. Place a 12” cast iron skillet on the cooking grate to preheat. 
  2. Place the duck breasts skin side down in the skillet. Cook until seared and browned, flip and close the lid of the grill. Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 150ºF. Remove the breasts from the skillet, cover and put in a warm place.
  3. Deglaze the skillet that the breasts were cooked in with the duck/chicken stock. Scrape up the fond from the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon. Remove from the grill.
  4. Place a smaller cast iron skillet on the grill. Add the sugar and vinegar and cook until the sugar begins to caramelize. Remove from the heat and whisk in the orange liquor. Return the skillet to the heat. Add the stock, pan drippings and orange and lemon juices. and cook until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the butter and swirl until incorporated. Strain the sauce.
  5. Slice each duck breast and top with the orange zest. Ladle the sauce over the top to serve.