I have a habit of forgetting a particular word. I can’t tell you what that particular word is as I’ve forgotten it but it serves to define the emotions we feel when fondly remembering earlier moments in our lives…I haven’t really nailed that down, so I’m hoping that I’ll remember the word sooner than later. What I was remembering, fondly, was the era of Duck à l’Orange; an era when Duck in Orange Sauce would not have communicated the intended sophistication of the dish to a public who were newly accustomed to going “abroad” for their hols whilst still being firmly entrenched in a previous mindset when Canard à l’Orange might be that bit too foreign and best avoided…if only they had duck on the menu.
( I still can’t remember the fucking word, and I’ve been to the doctor’s since I started writing this which means that I’ve had plenty of time in the waiting room to reflect and it’s still a blank).
I have a very good book, by Simon Hopkinson, which covers the recipes of this era and is aptly called “The Prawn Cocktail Years” but it was not from that treasure trove that I uncovered this uncomplicated little jewel. On second thoughts, I never uncovered it at all; it was uncovered for me, from under the upholstered cover of a well thumbed copy of Stephane Reynaud’s “Ripailles”, by the good friends with whom we had lunch last Sunday. Got it…nostalgia….I was quite close at the doctor’s surgery when I saw a notice about neuralgia and on second thoughts nostalgia does not have to include fondness or thanks for the memory. Now I can clearly state that I never get nostalgic about Duck à l’Orange as all my memories of it, prior to the discovery of the recipe that I have just touched on, are of a repellent, sticky dish of marmalade and poultry.
In time to come I may well feel nostalgic for the moment that I happened upon this short, simple and successful recipe. Before you launch into this recipe I should mention that I made a couple of changes that worked …for me. I only used two duck breasts ( which, as you can see, were a good size and which fed 4 people) and two large oranges: the zest from one and the juice from one and a half. The remaining half was to be used for segments but I ate it so omitted the segments. You’ll see that M. Reynaud stipulates 200ml of soy which amount I more than halved (50ml). I whisked a great deal more butter into the sauce…quite a lot more. The result was very good. On reflection, mine’s a completely different recipe…..:)
The duck was accompanied by peas and potatoes roasted in duck fat.