L’aiguillette de canard au citron
(Lemon duck breasts)

salt and pepper
2 duck breasts
2 tsp. sugar
1 fl. oz. wine (or balsamic)vinegar
8 fl. oz. good veal or chicken stock
grated zest and juice of ½ lemon
2 tsp. Grand Marnier

Heat a small frying pan, without oil. At the same time begin to heat a small heavy roasting pan in the oven at 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

Salt the duck breasts lightly on the skin only.

Brown them skin side down in the hot frying pan. The object is to extract the fat and crisp the skins without drying out the flesh.

As the skins brown, add the sugar. When it starts to caramelize, add the vinegar.

Turn breasts in the sweet/sour mixture, coating them well. Transfer to the hot roasting pan skin side up, uncovered, and cook in the oven for 20 minutes, then check. How much longer you cook them will depend on how well done you want them.

While the duck is cooking, bring the stock to a boil in a separate pan and simmer until it starts to thicken. Add the Grand Marnier, the lemon juice and most of the zest. When the breasts are done, add as much of the pan’s fatty juices as your taste and diet will permit.

It’s customary in such recipes to slice the breast at an angle and fan out the slices. This makes a great photo but allows it to cool quicker than you can eat it. I prefer to leave it whole and have some warmth still left in the last bite.
Original recipe from Au Caneton, Orbec; as set down by Shaun Hill for Mirabel Osler’s A Spoon with Every Course and further adapted for my travel journal, Through Darkest Gaul with Trencher and Tastevin.