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.

You need some hearty mash to help soak that up, and I also 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, the pestle and mortar mix is the same – so simply double it and use in both recipes.

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
  • About five juniper berries
  • 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
  • some smoked salt
  • 2 Indonesian long peppercorns, or about 8 ordinary black peppercorns
  • 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 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. Then put in the oven for ten minutes. They should still be pink inside, but not, obviously, bloody.
  5. Meanwhile, zest the orange, peel it and cut it into small chunks.
  6. Peel and chop the shallot.
  7. Put the juniper berries, the peppercorns, ½ tsp smoked salt and the peeled garlic clove into a pestle and mortar and grind.
  8. Move the breasts to a warmed plate, cover with foil and leave to rest.
  9. 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.
  10. Reduce the heat and fry the shallot (add back some fat if you need to). When the shallot has become translucent, add the mix in the pestle and mortar. Stir for a minute or two and then add the vermouth, the orange zest, and the Herbes de Provence.
  11. Carve the duck breasts on the diagonal, and serve with the orange chunks, the quick Savoy cabbage, some mashed potato and the negroni sauce.
cabbage with juniper recipe
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