Slow roasted Duck a l’Orange with Lingonberry Port Gravy

by eat in my kitchen

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So many options for the Christmas table and so many choices to be made! We’re lucky as we have two Christmases to celebrate, following my German tradition on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day, for my partner and our guests from Malta. This means we have to decide on two starters, two main courses, desserts and wine, but one thing is for sure, we’ll have two days of feasting and laughing and I can’t wait to get started!

In the past few weeks I’ve put together various menus in my head, with roasts, stews and poultry, and so far, just one thing is set: there will be one (or rather two) slow roasted ducks on the table. This is my little tradition which I’m not willing to compromise on. The recipe I use guarantees the most tender meat, it tastes fantastic with red cabbage and spaetzle on the side, and gravy, of course, lots of gravy which I love so much. In the past few years I filled the duck with a rich meat and liver stuffing similar to a paté, but it’s time to try something new. For my pre-Christmas test dinner, I stuffed it with oranges, apples, chestnuts, onions and herbs. The focus is on the citrus’ fruitiness which merges so wonderfully with the meat’s juices and makes such a rich sauce. I mixed in some lingonberry jam and port, a quick sauce which tastes just heavenly! I didn’t change the method of cooking, I worked with the same time and temperature as every year (3 1/2 hours on 85°C / 185°F with the grill turned on for the last few minutes), the result is so reliable that I wouldn’t dare to mess with it. This is how my mother cooks her duck as well and I trust her blindly when it comes to poultry.

She only failed once and it wasn’t her fault. Years ago, she made a huge turkey for the whole family which had to cook in the oven for hours. At one point, we covered it with foil, following the recipe which seemed to work fine until this point. When my mother took the turkey out we all gathered around a little table. I remember the pride in her face, of a cook who’s waited impatiently to show the fruit of hours of work. She lifted the foil but the bird was pitch black (it almost looked mummified) and to make it even worse, a leg fell off with a dull thud. In a dry tone, all my mother could say was “I think it’s done.” We looked at each other and couldn’t stop laughing! The thermostat in her oven broke and changed the temperature. Although things didn’t turn out as we had planned, what I love about this night is that even years later we still talk about it and it makes me laugh till I cry whenever I think about it and picture the scene of my family gathering around the burned turkey. We tried to make the best out of it and cut off a few (edible) pieces and enjoyed it with lots of gravy on a sandwich!

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Slow roasted Duck a l’Orange with Lingonberry Port Gravy

For 3 – 4 people you need

duck (with giblets), rinsed and dried, 1 (about 2.5kg / 5.5 pounds)
large orange, rinsed, cut into small wedges, 1
medium sized onions, cut into small wedges, 3
apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges, 2
chestnuts, boiled and peeled, a handful
fresh thyme, a small bunch
bay leaf 1
fresh sage leaves 10
black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar, 1 teaspoon
coarse sea salt 2 teaspoons
olive oil
lingonberry jam 3 teaspoons (plus more to taste)
port (or brandy) 50ml / 1/4 cup
red wine 50ml / 1/4 cup
freshly squeezed orange juice 25ml / 1/8 cup

Set the oven to 85°C / 190°F (I used the Rotitherm roasting setting).

In a casserole dish, heat a splash of olive oil and sear the duck for a few minutes on all sides until golden brown. Take the casserole dish off the heat. Mix the pepper and salt, rub the skin with it (inside and out) and stuff the duck with orange, apple, onion, 3/4 of the thyme, the bay leaf, 1/2 the sage and 1/3 of the chestnuts. Arrange the remaining fruit, herbs and vegetable around it and cook the duck for 3 1/2 hours in the oven. Pour some of the fat over the skin while it’s cooking. After 3 1/2 hours, check with a skewer, only clear juices should come out. Turn on the grill for just a few minutes until the skin is golden brown.

For the gravy, fry the giblets in a little olive oil for a few minutes until golden brown and deglaze with the port. Take out the giblets, add the red wine and orange juice and bring to the boil. Stir in the lingonberry jam and pour the duck’s juices (without the fat) into the sauce, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the duck with the gravy, stuffing, the remaining chestnuts, red cabbage and spaetzle.

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