I use kumquats for a variation on this French classic and a personal favourite – canard aux agrumes.
I used navel oranges and kumquats from California, and the duck is from Lac Brome in Québec. Though these oranges had darker flesh, visually it’s still nice. For the wine, pinot noir is often proposed against a duck dish, but it is not an appropriate choice here. Sweet and sour dominate the palate with bursts of bitter from the kumquat, the aroma of duck mingled with citrus is the quintessence of harmony, the dish in itself is perfect and generous, but choosing the right wine isn’t obvious. The presence of fresh citrus raises a further challenge as biting into them with a dry red wine, or even a dry white wine, isn’t the most pleasant experience. Sweet white wine is the order of the day. A German Riesling could manage, but a more ample Sauternes or Jurançon style would be my preference.
Sweet wine, noble rot, late harvest, raised in oak, all are fine.
|Canard aux agrumes for two in two courses|
|– 1 large duck (muscovy, peking, moulard, challans…)
– 2 navel oranges
– 16 kumquats
– 100 mL Grand Marnier
– 100 mL Cointreau or Curaçao
– 1 cup fresh orange juice (I used up 4 oranges)
– 1 cup chicken stock
– 30 mL white wine vinegar
– beurre manié (flour and butter 1:1)
– 200 g of butter
– duck fat
Navel orange is a little dark
Weigh the butter and melt it in a large cocotte with a heavy lid, brown the duck in it on all sides over moderate high heat a few minutes. Cover, and reduce to medium heat, cook 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the oranges and carve out segments, set aside. Squeeze the membranes to extract juices, and top off with squeezed orange juice to form 1 cup. Wash the kumquats and remove the peduncle. Slice them and remove any seeds. Measure the rest of the ingredients. Blend the soft butter and flour to form beurre manié. After 35 minutes, remove the lid of the cocotte and douse the duck in Grand Marnier, cover and cook another 10 minutes. Prepare a large basin to hold the duck. After 10 minutes remove the lid, and with a large wooden spatula through the duck’s cavity, lift it and drop it gently in your basin, cover with foil to keep warm. The duck can rest for a length of time equal to how long it cooked, so there is no rush in preparing the sauce. Next pour out all of the butter and animal fat into another container. Add a spoonful of duck fat to the cocotte and brown the neck bone if you have it. Once browned, deglaze with chicken stock, orange juice, vinegar, and let it boil gently a few minutes. Add the slices of kumquats to cook gently for 2 minutes or so.
Strain everything, and return only the liquid back to the cocotte. Add the Cointreau and reduce gently for a few minutes. Check the basin where the duck is resting, if there is jus collected, pour it into the cocotte. Whisk in the beurre manié gradually until a desired consistency is reached. If you have a basket that goes in the cocotte, place in it the orange segments and kumquats. Or use a strainer, and place inside the cocotte, cover and keep warm. Turn on the broiler to low. Remove the foil from the duck, and carve out the two breasts (or magrets), and return them under a foil. Carve out the two thighs next, and place on a baking sheet with the flesh side facing up and place under the broiler and set it to turn off in 5 minutes. Slice the magret into thick slices and arrange on a plate. They should be done medium. Place the kumquats and orange segments around them, leaving enough for the second course of thighs, and ladle sauce over them. Serve immediately, and follow with the thighs as a second course. I recommend glazed root vegetables on the side.
Canard aux agrumes
I had this with a glass of late harvest Riesling from Gehringer Brothers. It’s quite pleasant, juicy, honeyed and jammy, but not all that complex.