Day 15: Dead Duck Day

The most striking thing about today’s lesson was how fast I wolfed down my duck l’orange. Most of the meals we make in class are—in the word’s of Chef—“Old school, good school.” They always involve butter and cream, and a lengthy procedure.

Duck L’Orange

Coming from a lifestyle magazine, I was trained to write about recipes that were easy, feasible, and not too time consuming. So these recipes are a little out of my traditional menu, but I could wax poetic about any duck preparation.

Canard is an easy protein to work with because it’s hard to mess up. Our first lesson was how to butcher it into legs, thighs, and magrets (boneless duck breasts). It’s basically the same process as quartering a chicken, but this is a bigger and fattier bird (yum).

Chef Dominique taking a butcher’s knife to a duck’s carcass

We took the magrets and pan-seared them until they developed a golden-brown crust and accompanied it with a dark, orange-infused sauce that was finger-licking good. The sauce incorporated caramelized sugar to give it that sweet kick and a syrupy glaze.

Nick caramelizing sugar

But my favorite part of the dish were the julienne of orange zest that we candied and used as garnish (did I mention the lengthy process?). My station partner and I kept nibbling on them as we cooked our duck. It just made me crave a dense, moist chocolate cake topped with these strips of candied zest.

(P.S. If anyone knows what movie I snagged today’s title from, I’ll personally make you duck l’orange.)

TIP OF THE DAY: How to make candied orange zest:

Peel an orange with a peeler so you get thin strips of the rind. Then cut those into super thin slices. Blanch them twice to remove its bitter flavor. Then make a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar) and throw in zest. Cook on a low simmer until zest is tender and tasty.


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