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Grilled Duck

Anatra alla Griglia


The French claim duck with orange sauce as their creation. Italians argue that they, and particularly Catherine de Medici, introduced the French to good cooking and anatra all€™arancia, or orange-sauced duck. In checking the work of Apicius, I found in Book IV, entitled €œFowl€, six recipes for anatem, or duck. The sauces were made from spices, particularly coriander, cumin, celery seed, caraway, rue, and pepper. Herbs such as mint, oregano, lovage, and myrtle berries were added along with wine, honey, vinegar, mustard, and broth. Cooked down, this would taste like an agrodolce, or sweet-and-sour sauce. No oranges were listed.

My version borrows on the ancient work of Apicius. I use wild duck, which has a strong flavor and should be marinated a day before cooking, turned frequently in the marinade. Done on a grill, it is superb, but oven roasting is fine too.


1 3 1/2-pound duck, boned

1/2 cup dry red wine

1/4 cup Filippo Berio olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Leaves from 3 sprigs of rosemary

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons honey


Wash and dry the duck pieces. Set aside.

In a glass dish large enough to hold the duck in a single layer, stir together the remaining ingredients, and mix well. Add the duck, cover, and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Baste the duck frequently with the marinade.

Heat a charcoal or gas grill. When coals are ready, drain the duck and wipe dry. Grill about 6 minutes on each side, turning frequently and basting with the marinade. Serve the duck immediately.

This recipe is from Nella Cucina by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1993.


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