Young and Hungry

Thanksgiving Alternatives: Duck a L’Orange

Duck l'orange

Kimberlée Anne – Marie Elisabeth | MySpace Video

Given the wealth of proteins that may have been on the original Thanksgiving table, I'm not sure how we Americans ended up so obsessed with the turkey. I'm sure it had to do with some confluence of agri-business, Madison Avenue, and JFK's undying love for bronzed birds. (Insert ridiculous smirk here.)

Seriously, though, why limit your options to a bland butterball of a bird? Are the turkey traditions really more important than building a great meal that we all can truly be thankful for?

If Mad Men has done one thing for us culturally — aside from make women think that the tall, dark, and mysterious man is desireable again — it has allowed us to revisit some of the fashions and foods of that era, like duck a l'orange. This classic dish of (likely) French origin has a rich history, but it suffered numerous indiginities in the American age of convenience. Consider this brief passage from The Food Timeline:


A survey of American cookbooks/magazines from WWII forward confirms Duck a l'Orange was a popular dinner party menu option from the 1950s-1970s. Some recipes were true to the original; others were simplified. McCall's Cook Book circa 1963 instructs cooks to cover spread the duckling with orange marmelade (p. 484).

I think it's time to reconsider this dish — and, in fact, reconsider your Thanksgiving meal to include this carefully engineered entree of savory, sweet, and sour flavors.

  • òste e còc

    Consider making a gastrique with the orange juice (bitter Seville oranges for an authentic Bigarade), sugar and vinegar for a proper duck à l'orange sauce.

    Your refreshing nod to the classics and François Haeringer is greatly appreciated.

  • corby di praglia

    This dish is one of the first "formal" dishes taught to me by Lorenza De' Medici. Its origins are, in fact, Italian; and it was introduced to the French by Caterina De' Medici when she married the future French king, Henri ll.
    Caterina brought many Italian customs with her to France. She decorated her tables elegantly with flowers, small sugar sculptures and forks, (which had long been used in Florence, but were almost never found on French tables.) She introduced olive oil, Chianti wines and white beans to the French culinary lexicon, and insisted that savoury and sweet flavors be separated.
    The dish that has become one of France's signatures began in the hills of Tuscany and has always been known as anatra all' arancia.