Duck a l’Orange with Sunflower Seed Romesco

Photo by Cody McCain

Photo by Cody McCain


Photo courtesy Hunter Evans

With the autumn season upon us, my restaurant Elvie's is serving a fall-inspired play on duck a l'orange, which is a pan-seared duck breast with sunflower-seed romesco, fennel, pancetta vinaigrette and orange. Whether you follow the recipe at home or come to Elvie's and ask for the duck special, I am confident this dish will delight. The sunflower-seed romesco is one of my favorite sauces, and I believe it also pairs well with vegetables, fish, pork and other roasted meats. Feel free to use it for a variety of meals.

Duck a l'Orange


• 1 duck breast, scored

• 1 bulb of fennel, sliced as thinly as possible (I use a Japanese mandoline)

• 1/4 cup pancetta vinaigrette (see below for recipe)

• 1 tbsp butter

• 1 orange, peeled and segmented (seeds removed)

• Salt and black pepper

• 3 tbsp sunflower seed romesco (see below for recipe)


Step 1: Prepare the romesco, recipe follows.

Step 2: Prepare the pancetta vinaigrette, recipe follows.

Step 3: Season the duck breast with salt and pepper.

Step 4: In a cold saute pan, place the duck breast and turn the burner's heat on medium. Hold the breast down for one minute so the edges do not curl up. Cook the duck breast for an additional 15 minutes on the skin, pour excess fat out of the pan as needed.

Step 5: Flip the duck breast over when golden brown and cook on the flesh side for about one minute to reach medium rare. Cook another minute or two for a more well-done breast.

Step 6: Let breast rest on a cutting board to rest while you plate the dish.

Step 7: In a small saucepan, add the sliced fennel and the pancetta vinaigrette. On medium heat, stit together. Add the butter and season with salt and pepper.

Step 8: Cook the fennel until it has wilted a little, about three minutes. You want it to have some texture but to be warmed up. Keep warm.

Step 9: On a large entree plate, place some romesco on the plate and smear across. Slice the duck breast longways down the middle and place the two portions of duck on top of the romesco. Place a little pile of the fennel on each of the duck breasts and garnish with the orange segments.

Pancetta Vinaigrette


• 6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, cut into 1.5-inch strips (bacon serves as a substitute)

• 1/4 cup sherry vinegar (red wine vinegar works great as well)

• 1 tbsp local honey

• 1/2 tsp creole mustard

• 2 shallots, thinly sliced

• Freshly ground black pepper


Step 1: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, cook the pancetta over medium-low heat until it begins to brown.

Step 2: Add the shallots and cook for another five minutes.

Step 3: Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel.

Step 4: Add the vinegar, honey and mustard to the rendered fat in the pan.

Step 5: Bring to a boil and whisk. Salt and pepper to taste.

Step 6: Add the reserved pancetta and toss to distribute the hat and dressing.

Sunflower Seed Romesco


• 8 garlic cloves

• 4 tomatoes, roasted and peeled

• 1 cup toasted sunflower seeds

• 4 slices of bread toasted in olive oil, use the best bread you can find or make your own (sourdough works well, too)

• 2 tbsp paprika

• 1/4 cup sherry vinegar


Step 1: In a food processor, chop the garlic and seeds together.

Step 2: Add the tomatoes and mix.

Step 3: Once mixed well, add the bread, little by little.

Step 4: Season to taste with salt and vinegar.

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