Duck à l’orange with a negroni sauce

One of the few cookery books which has made me laugh out loud is Kay Plunkett-Hogge’s Adventures of a Terribly Greedy Girl. Plunkett-Hogge (honestly, what a name!) came to cooking via natural enthusiasm and having set up her bespoke location catering service for fashion shoots.

She’s also very good on booze (having authored two books, Make Mine a Martini, and A Sherry and a Little Plate of Tapas).

Saucy Dressings is also keen on both food and booze, so when I came upon the recipe for Duck ‘Negroni’ I began to read carefully.

In fact this is really an adaptation of a classic recipe made famous in the early ‘60s by Julia Child, Duck à l’Orange. This usually includes red wine vinegar, port or madeira, an orange liqueur – grand marnier, and some orange bitters.

Plunkett-Hogge has substituted Child’s madeira for red vermouth in order to combine it with the negroni recipe…but she’s missing the gin (she has added juniper to make up for it) and the Campari. Leaving out the Campari is forgivable – it has a very strong, bitter taste. But the original Julia Child recipe includes orange bitters which would be a good substitute…I wondered why she left them out.

So I’ve adapted Plunkett-Hogge’s adaptation returning the bitters to the mix, increasing the amount of sauce, and making a few other changes to cut down the work, and make use of the orange flesh rather than throwing it away.

You need some hearty mash to help soak all this up; or alternatively crushed lemony potatoes, or rösti.

I also sometimes make the whole meal a bit more of a negroni by serving it with Quick Cabbage with Juniper, Gin and Peppercorns. If you do this, seasoning mix (juniper, peppercorns, salt, and garlic) is similar – so simply double it and use in both recipes. Peas would also go well.

For a nearly negroni sorbet, follow this link.

For how to make a negroni, follow this link.

Recipe for duck à l’orange with a negroni sauce

Serves 2


  • 2 duck breasts
  • 1 banana shallot
  • 1 fat clove of garlic, crushed with a little smoked salt
  • 1 tbsp gin
  • 160 ml/⅔ cup red vermouth
  • A few drops of orange bitters (I use Dr Adam Elmegirab’s Spanish bitters) – or use lemon juice
  • Flesh and zest of half an orange
  • 1 tbsp Herbes de Provence
  • generous grinds of pepper
  • 1 tsp demerara sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 210ºC.
  2. Cut some slashes into the skin of the duck breasts.
  3. Heat a small roasting tin, or, ideally, a frying pan with a removable handle you can also put in the oven, on the hob until it’s good and hot and put the duck on to it, skin side down. Grind over some pepper and rub in a little salt. Cook for five minutes until the skin has crisped up.
  4. Turn the breasts over, and continue to cook for a couple of minutes to sear the non-skin side of the breasts. At this stage you can pour off some of the fat to use for the vegetables and the sauce. You can also do this bit ahead of time, and then simply put the breasts in the oven (as described below) just before you want to eat them.
  5. Put the sealed breasts in the oven for ten minutes. They should still be pink inside, but not, obviously, bloody.
  6. Peel and chop the shallot, and begin to fry in some of the duck fat.
  7. Meanwhile, zest the orange, peel it and cut it into small chunks. Add to the shallot.
  8. Add the gin, crushed garlic, and the pepper. Add the demerara sugar, add the vermouth and the herbs. Warm the sauce through for about five minutes.
  9. Move the breasts to a warmed plate, cover with foil and leave to rest.
  10. If it looks as if there’s a lot of fat in the tin, pour some off – leave at least a tablespoon. Add the chunks of orange and the demerara sugar to the roasting tin and fry over a medium heat on the hob for about five minutes. Put the caramelised orange chunks on the plate with the duck using a slotted spoon and keep warm.
  11. Carve the duck breasts on the diagonal, and serve with the orange chunks, and whatever vegetables you have chosen.
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