Roasted Duck With Orange-Cherry Sauce

Pekin ducks are prepared much the same as any other game meat – this one is classically served rare to medium rare (I like it edging into medium, but I’m a Philistine).

Note: When buying a whole duck or goose, allow about 1 pound of raw weight per person. 

Duck pairs well with sweet/tart combinations, such as tart dried cherries, pomegranate molasses, orange, clementine, lemon, and sweeteners, or any combination of these. Good side dishes include seasonal winter vegetables. You can add the vegetables to the roasting pan around the birds for a simple, but supremely elegant, one pan meal. Alternatively, you could make a cauliflower pilaf.

2 Roasted Pekin Ducks with Orange-Cherry Sauce
Yield: 6 servings of duck // 802 calories, 52g fat,  97g protein, 4g net carbs
(Calculated as each duck weighing 5.5 pounds)

2 Pekin ducks (aka Long Island duck)
2 oranges, one cut into eighths—zest half of one orange
Note: I roast two birds to have leftovers in order to make low carb cassoulet later in the week.

1/2 cup champagne vinegar (or white wine)
2 cups organic chicken stock
(zest from half of one orange, from duck’s oranges, above)
1/2 cup champagne vinegar, with a drop or two of orange oil  (or orange juice)
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 cup frozen, unsweetened cherries, thawed
2 teaspoons Swerve sweetener (or 2 teaspoons sugar)
Note: This sauce recipe makes enough sauce for 4 servings of duck. I use citrus-infused vinegar and low carb sweeteners to keep the carbs low.

Roast the Duck
Pre-heat the oven to 475 degrees. Rinse the ducks, pat dry, and stuff with as many pieces of the the cut-up oranges as will fit. Roast the ducks on a rack within a roasting pan for 11 to 15 minutes per pound for rare/medium-rare, longer for medium (my preference). The internal temperature should reach 155 – 165 degrees for rare to medium-rare, and closer to 180 for medium. (Note: the breasts will reach a higher temperature than the legs. Go with the breast temp.) Roast it hot and fast (ours were done in an hour and a half), basting often. When ducks are finished roasting, and have cooled a bit, remove and dispose of the orange slices from the cavity, using tongs.

Make the Orange-Cherry Sauce

Remove the ducks from their roasting pan, pour the pan’s fat into a fat separator, and deglaze the pan with 1/2 a cup champagne vinegar (or 1/2 cup white wine) and chicken stock. Use high heat to extract as much flavor as possible from the pan drippings, meanwhile adding the zest of one orange to the pan. Following that, add 1/2 a cup of champagne vinegar with a drop or two of orange oil (or 1/2 cup orange juice) to the pan, continuing to cook over high heat.

Pour the sauce through a sieve, into a sauté pan, continuing to reduce the sauce over high heat. Add the Grand Marnier and cherries. Continue to reduce. Add the sweetening. Taste for sweet-tart balance. Add more Swerve, if needed. Continue to reduce, until the sauce is lightly syrupy, dark, and delicious.