For the longest time I admired photos of blood oranges, without being able to find any around. Now that they are available on a regular basis, I am a happy camper, bringing a few home with me whenever I spot them at the grocery store. What I love about blood oranges the most is their mysterious nature: you never know how red they will be inside. The skin tries to give you a hint, but… it can be very deceiving. For this particular recipe from Donna Hay, I needed a fairly large amount of their juice, so I went to work on my oranges, each with their unique shade of red. Gorgeous!
I had a few problems with the recipe, explaining why the “work in progress”. To start with, the orange juice must be reduced by boiling (together with orange marmalade, sugar and vinegar), for what Donna says it will be 12 to 15 minutes, until thickened. Since you must brush the skin of the duck with the resulting sauce, trust me: 15 minutes simply doesn’t do the trick. It took me over 35 minutes, and I had to watch the pan like a hawk, because it boiled over quite quickly.
In preparation for roasting, the duck’s skin is pricked with a skewer, and the bird is dropped in boiling water for 10 seconds. Think carefully about the whole strategy, because you will be placing a reasonably large piece of meat in boiling water, and removing it 10 short seconds later. The duck will have a very high tendency to slide. Boiling water. Slippery bird. Not a good match. Be prepared. Once that part is taken care of, you’ll brush its surface with the blood orange reduction sauce, placing it over a rack on a baking dish protected with foil, as you see here.
My next problem with the instructions was the roasting temperature and time. According to the recipe, roast at 350 F for about 1 hour, then cover the duck with foil and roast for a further 20 to 30 minutes. The photo in her book is a mouth-watering masterpiece of golden brown crispy skin. Not sure how she would get there in those conditions, I had to increase the temperature and cook my duck a lot longer, even though my duck was almost exactly the weight she recommends in her recipe. In the end, the meat was not very flavorful, and definitely not tender the way I would like it to be.
The best part of the meal was the side dish I chose to go with it: shredded Napa cabbage, very simply dressed with lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper, prepared 15 minutes before serving. Very refreshing, perfect to cut through the fatty duck.
So, it’s back to the drawing board on this one. I liked the flavor of the sauce, and feel that the recipe has the potential to be a winner. Knowing myself, though, I know it will take me a while to try it again. If anyone has suggestions, advice, tried and true methods, please post them in the comments or send them to me by email. I am all ears!
ONE YEAR AGO: Mahi-Mahi
TWO YEARS AGO: Memories of Pasteis (one of my favorite blog posts…)