by Scott Leysath
My style of waterfowl cooking is typically fast and furious. High heat, a splash or two of liquid ingredients, a handful of herbs or vegetables, and we're ready to eat. Many of my wild game meals involve eating grilled duck while standing around a fire at a remote duck camp. On special occasions, however, I want a duck dinner to be more than just a feeding frenzy.
If you're introducing someone to the flavors of waterfowl, it's best not to plop a whole roast duck on their plate and let them fend for themselves. Many wild game newcomers may already be a bit apprehensive about eating duck in the first place, so both flavor and presentation are important when choosing a recipe for a dinner party or other special occasion. Whether your goal is to impress guests at home or simply to prepare a memorable meal for friends at the duck club, surprise them with a dish that looks, and tastes, like something that might be available in a fine restaurant.
Duck breasts with Grand Marnier sauce is an impressive, flavorful dish that is easy to prepare. Serve it with a starchy side dish and seasonal vegetables. Prepared in a separate pan, the sauce will be vibrant and colorful. This dish can also be made in one pan by putting the sauce ingredients on top of the duck breast fillets as they cook, but the color of the sauce will be darker and less impressive. As an alternative to cooking with liqueur, you can substitute 2 tablespoons of orange juice concentrate and a drop or two of vanilla extract in place of the Grand Marnier.
Duck Breasts with Grand Marnier Sauce
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Optional Seasoning Time: 1-2 hours
Cooking Time: less than 12 minutes
- 4–6 skinless duck breast fillets
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice, strained
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1/3 cup Grand Marnier liqueur
- 3/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 6-7 pieces
- 2 green onions, shredded lengthwise
1. Rub the duck breast fillets with olive oil, salt, white pepper, and ground coriander. If time allows, wrap the seasoned duck in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and brown the fillets on both sides or until medium-rare, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer the duck to a plate and lightly cover with foil for 5 minutes.
2. To prepare the sauce, combine orange juice, sugar, orange zest, and half of the Grand Marnier in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 2–3 tablespoons. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in butter, a few pieces at a time, until thoroughly blended, and then whisk in the remaining Grand Marnier.
3. Slice duck diagonally into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Spoon the sauce onto plates and arrange the duck over the sauce. Top the duck with shredded green onions.