This is one of those classic dishes that somehow became a cliche, and people stopped making it for fear of looking un-cool, which is too bad, since it's really good. This is traditionally done with a whole roasted duck, but by using breasts we get pretty much the same results in a lot less time.

Recipe Summary

prep:
15 mins
cook:
20 mins
additional:
15 mins
total:
50 mins
Servings:
2
Yield:
2 servings
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Ingredients

2
Original recipe yields 2 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Score duck skin almost all the way through the skin and fat each way on the diagonal in a crosshatch pattern. Generously season with salt and rub salt into each breast. Let rest, skin-side up, at room temperature, for 15 minutes.

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  • Whisk chicken broth, orange liqueur, sherry vinegar, orange marmalade, orange zest, and cayenne pepper together in a small bowl.

  • Pat duck breasts dry with paper towels. Re-season skin-side of duck breasts with salt.

  • Heat duck fat in a heavy skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Place duck in skillet, skin-side down, and cook for 6 minutes. Flip duck breasts and cook until they start to firm and are reddish-pink and juicy in the center, about 4 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 140 degrees F (60 degrees C). Transfer breasts to a plate to rest. Pour any rendered duck fat into a glass jar.

  • Return skillet to medium heat and whisk flour into pan; cook and stir until flour is completely incorporated, about 1 minute. Pour orange mixture into skillet; bring to a boil. Cook until sauce thickens and is reduced, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. When orange mixture stops bubbling, add butter; stir until butter is completely melted and incorporated into the sauce, about 1 minute. Season with salt to taste.

  • Slice duck breasts across the grain, arrange on a plate, and spoon orange sauce over the top.

Cook's Note:

You can substitute vegetable oil for the duck fat.

Nutrition Facts

354 calories; protein 19.8g 40% DV; carbohydrates 14.9g 5% DV; fat 20.9g 32% DV; cholesterol 129.6mg 43% DV; sodium 593mg 24% DV. Full Nutrition

Reviews (41)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
04/01/2014
Excellent and easy! I have tried to roast whole duck twice before only to end up with a smoky, greasy mess. I bought 2 boneless duck breasts (Mary's brand, natural, free range duck from Petaluma, California) and followed this recipe - perfection! Moist, tender and savory. The sauce was light and not too sweet. Roasted some winter squash and purple potatoes and a steamed half an artichoke on the side for a special dinner. Even though I was worried about the cook times being under done, I let them rest in a warm oven while I made the sauce and it was perfect. Only wish I had taken a picture! Read More
(3)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 2 stars
11/01/2018
Sorry, Chef. I swear by your recipes and advice, but your application of Kosher salt as recommended on your video is completely over the top and totally ruined the dish, killing the flavor of the duck and the sauce. After the 15 minutes of dry brining, I recommend wiping the salt off altogether and refraining from salting again before cooking. That’s the proper method for dry brining. I should have known better from past experience grilling, but I trusted your instructions, lowering my rating from five stars to two. Otherwise, the dish would have been great, and we wouldn’t have wasted $40 on ruined duck breasts. Make this adjustment as to salt, and you’ll be pleased with the results. Read More
(4)
51 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 42
  • 4 star values: 7
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 2
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 2 stars
11/01/2018
Sorry, Chef. I swear by your recipes and advice, but your application of Kosher salt as recommended on your video is completely over the top and totally ruined the dish, killing the flavor of the duck and the sauce. After the 15 minutes of dry brining, I recommend wiping the salt off altogether and refraining from salting again before cooking. That’s the proper method for dry brining. I should have known better from past experience grilling, but I trusted your instructions, lowering my rating from five stars to two. Otherwise, the dish would have been great, and we wouldn’t have wasted $40 on ruined duck breasts. Make this adjustment as to salt, and you’ll be pleased with the results. Read More
(4)
Rating: 5 stars
03/31/2014
Excellent and easy! I have tried to roast whole duck twice before only to end up with a smoky, greasy mess. I bought 2 boneless duck breasts (Mary's brand, natural, free range duck from Petaluma, California) and followed this recipe - perfection! Moist, tender and savory. The sauce was light and not too sweet. Roasted some winter squash and purple potatoes and a steamed half an artichoke on the side for a special dinner. Even though I was worried about the cook times being under done, I let them rest in a warm oven while I made the sauce and it was perfect. Only wish I had taken a picture! Read More
(3)
Rating: 5 stars
01/03/2015
okay....my best friend had duck with orange sauce 20 years ago!! she raved about it and I've been wanting to make it for her ever since. Time and availability presented itself last night as she is here visiting. What an amazing treat this was!! This recipe was so easy to follow and sauce was awesome!! I didn't have any sherry vinegar but i had some orange champagne Muscat vinegar i got from trader joes!! perfect!!! you get 5 for making my girl happy!! so worth the face!! thank you!! Read More
(2)
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Rating: 5 stars
11/24/2017
We have never had Duck before and being a fan of Chef John recipes decided to give this a go. We could only find frozen duck breasts. As you can tell from the rating, we were incredibally satisfied. Followed the directions exactly, and confess that I probably should have cooked the duck a minute longer. The sauce was to die for. Absolutely loved the orange flavor and admit to basically drowning the duck in the sauce as I loved it so much. The meat was moist and tender despite being previously frozen. Will make again. Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
12/25/2015
We used this recipe as is no tweaks today for a hassle-free Christmas dinner. This was amazingly easy and quick and the results quite impressive. Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
10/04/2015
Awesome dish. Really suprised this doesn't have more reviews. I love duck so much now. Way better than steak. Great work chef john Read More
(2)
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Rating: 4 stars
06/23/2015
There are comments on the duck breast being tough. I jaccard my breast before I cook them. Jacardding is an hand held unit that has many small knives that pierce the flesh to tenderize. Same thing can be used on steaks. You can buy these off of ebay. Great piece of equipment to have. Read More
(2)
Rating: 5 stars
11/27/2019
I've made this wonderful recipe twice, exactly as described except stopping the duck at 130F rather than 140 - it was still on the medium side of medium-rare, but fabulous nonetheless. In tonight's attempt, I lost my head and forgot to make the roux before adding the sauce mixture to the skillet, so had to add the flour as a paste after. It still came out great. Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
01/14/2016
This was easy to make and delicious. I used a little more or the sauce because in our home we're suckers for orange. I served it with steamed green beans and a cauliflower-potato mash. It was great:) Read More
(1)