Le Canard a L’orange (Orange Duck)


Canard a l’orange is a very old famous French dish that combines duck with orange. It’s an ideal recipe for the weekend or the holidays and easy to prepare.

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The origin of canard a l’orange

Although the French became famous for the dish, it might have origins in Florence. In the Middle Ages kitchens started to use citrus fruits as a way to preserve meat. In Florence, the dish is known as ‘papero alla melarancia’. While there are many theories going around about the origins of canard a l’orange, the majority tell that Caterina de’ Medici, brought the dish to France in 1529 when she married the future king of France Henry II

Modern interpretation

Although I found the recipe handwritten in my grandmother’s cookbook, I am not sure if I can remember she ever made it for us. In her recipe, she made a broth from the intestines, which makes it a lot of work. Inspired by Julia Child’s recipe, we made a quasi-modern variation of the old recipe. Instead of cleaning the duck ourselves to assemble the gut, we brought a duck from the butcher that is ready to roast and left the gut out. Although it’s not completely the same as the old recipe, it is a delightful meal that doesn’t only taste amazing, but also looks impressive.

How to roast duck?

Because duck is a hunted animal it is very muscular and contains more fat than for example chicken. Duck is fattier and has a more strong taste that’s tender and moist. It’s pretty easy to roast a duck but to make it right there are a few steps to take. First of all pierce the duck skin all over. This is done to help the fat render out of the bird. Use a toothpick or sharp knife, but make sure you only pierce the skin, not the meat. Salt the duck well. Use an ovenproof pan and cover the bottom with cellery stalks. Rest the duck on top of the cellery, this will help the duck to crisp more. Place the duck in a preheated oven on 160°C(325F) and roast for 90 minutes. After 90 minutes take the pan from the oven and increase the heath to 220°C (425F). Put the bird back in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the skin is super crispy.

For more classic French recipes please have a look at recettes de mamie, this is where I keep all the treasures I found in the old cookbook of my French grandmother, mamie.

Canard a l’orange

Servings 4 people
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 40 mins
Total Time 2 hrs


  • 1 fat duck
  • salt
  • tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup beef or duck stock
  • 2 sweet oranges
  • tbsp orange liquor like grand marnier of cointreau
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • root vegetables, any kind you like to add to the roast.


  • Pierce the skin of the duck all over with a toothpick or sharp knife. Don't go through the meat but only pierce the skin. Salt the duck well and preheat the oven to 160°C (325F).
  • Place the cellery stalks in an ovenproof pan and place the duck on top of it. Add some root vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes on the side to roast together with the duck. The fats of the duck will give them a delicious taste. Roast for 90 minutes.
  • After 90 minutes take the pan out and increase the heat to 220°C. Put the bird back in the oven and roast until the skin is crispy for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile prepare the orange sauce. Add the vinegar and sugar to a saucepan and bring to a boil until it turns brown. Pour in the stock and, stir all the while. Set aside. Zest the peel off one orange, ad peel the other orange in large pieces using a potato peeler. Juice 1 orange and cut segments from the other orange.
  • Remove the ducks from the oven when ready.
  • Go on with the sauce and bring it to a simmer. Add the orange juice and the large peels of orange skin. Simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk together a little bit of the sauce with the starch in a small glass and add the mixture to the sauce to thicken. Add the grand marnier and mix well. Add 1 tbsp of butter and mix welle. Taste it and add sauce if needed.
  • Cut the duck in pieces and serve with the orange segments and root vegetebales. Pour the sauce over the duck. Granish with the zest . Bon apétit!
Course: dinner
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Bird, Christmas, Duck

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