Vietnamese Duck Braised in Spiced Orange Juice
Adapted from Rick Stein
-Make 4 servings-
4 duck legs
4 garlic cloves, crushed
50 g fresh ginger about 1/4 cup, peeled and thinly sliced
2 lemongrass stalks, trim, cut each into 3 pieces and crushed
2 dried whole red Thai chilies
1 tsp five spice powder or 4 star-anise
1 Tbs light brown or palm sugar
4 Tbs fish sauce
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
4 cups fresh orange juice (Bottled fresh squeezed Valencia smooth orange juice is used today)
1 Tbs cornstarch, mixed with 1 Tbs water (optional)
4 cups cooked rice
A few sprigs of cilantro or 1 thinly sliced green onion for garnish
1 orange, peeled, and segmented or sliced (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges
- Place the duck legs, skin side down with trimmed duck fat in a large heavy pan over medium high heat (large enough to have duck legs in 1 layer). When the meat starts to sizzle, slowly render fat on medium heat for about 5 minutes, and then turn the heat up to medium high to continue cooking the duck. Cook the duck legs on both sides until browned and crisp (about 10 minutes total). Transfer them to a plate and set aside. Keep about 1-2 Tbs fat in the pan and drain off the rest of the fat and save it.
- Add garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and chili into the fat left in the pan and cook until fragrant. Add sugar, five spice, fish sauce.
- Return the duck legs back to the pan. Stir to coat legs with spices for a few minutes.
- Add orange juice. Bring it to a very gentle boil. Then immediately lower the heat to medium low or low. Cover the pan and simmer gently until the meat is tender for about 1-2 hours and turn the legs occasionally. After 1 hour, test by using a folk or chopsticks and try to pull the meat off the bone. If it comes off easily, or if the skin has slipped down the end of the leg bone (the skin will be a little bit too soft at this time but it is still very good), then the meat is done. Taste and adjust season to your liking.
- If you like a thick and smooth sauce (specially when served with bread), transfer the legs to a plate, and strain the sauce. Stir cornstarch mixture into the sauce and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly until the sauce reduces to the thickness of your liking, for example like honey.
- If you have a broiler, lightly brush a little bit duck fat on the duck legs skin and broil about 7-10 minutes to get the golden look in this picture. Transfer to serving plates.
- Then pour some of this sauce over the duck legs, sprinkle ground black pepper, and garnish with cilantro sprigs or thinly sliced green onion with orange segments.
- Serve whole or chopped in small pieces with cooked rice and lime wedges to squeeze over it. Serve additional sauce alongside.
Make sure to use tweezers to pluck out visible feather roots.
Orange segments can be folded into the sauce before serving.
One duck can serve 4 people if you serve legs and breasts but you may need 2 ducks to get 4 legs and save breasts and bones for different courses. Breast cooks faster than leg so cook legs first for 30 minutes and add breast and continue cooking until no more pink in the breast (about 30 minutes) or until the breast is tender to your liking.
One duck 5-6 lb can serve 6 if you want to use whole duck. Begin with placing duck on a cutting board. Remove excess fat and save them. Pull each leg away from body and use a heavy cleaver to cut through the joint attaching it to the body. Likewise, pull each wing away from the body and cut through its joint. Cut the body into 4 pieces, lengthwise through bone connecting the back and the breast, and along the backbone and breastbone. Cut each pieces through the bone into bite-size pieces.
Rice can be flavored with 1 tsp duck fat and 2 thinly sliced green onions. While rice is still hot, add duck fat and green onion and toss well.