Madison Avenue to Main Street

“Look we’ve got oysters Rockefeller! Beef Wellington!  Napoleons! If we leave this lunch alone, it’ll take over Europe.” – Roger Sterling, “Mad Men” Season 1

Sunday night was a big night in the Flyover House:  We roasted a duck AND Season 4 of AMC’s Mad Men premiered.

In anticipation of our favorite show returning for another season, I planned a retro menu even Betty Draper could be proud of.  If Betty Draper cooked.  Or ate anything other than Melba toast and chardonnay.

We started the evening with an Old Fashioned and the classic appetizer, Devils on Horseback.  We used the classic recipe for Old Fashioned’s.  You can find one here: “Mad Men” Classic Cocktails.  I must say, I think that people drank differently in the 1960’s.  The drinks seem fuller, heavier, the flavors more complex, requiring you to slow down, sip, enjoy. I feel more relaxed just writing that.  As Roger Sterling would say, our generation drinks for the wrong reasons.

To go with our heady drinks, I made devils on horseback.  They’re simply dates wrapped in bacon cooked under the broiler for a couple minutes until  hot and crispy.  The salty bacon is great with the bourbon.

We're just getting warmed up

And for our main event: duck l’orange.  The recipe I found was featured in Gourmet magazine in 1948 and reprinted in 2006.  The good people at Gourmet even noted that this recipe is not the tired 1960’s cliche, but truly a lovely dish deserving of place on the modern table.  You can find the recipe here: duck l’orange.


I am thrilled to report that even my flyover small town grocery store carried frozen duck.  Much like turkeys, frozen can work almost as well as fresh thanks to modern processes of flash freezing.  This recipe calls for a Long Island or Peking duck.   My bird just said “DUCK”.

Close enough.

The bird gets seasoned inside and out with salt, pepper, a little cumin, and coriander.  Stuff the duck with onions, oranges, and fresh thyme, parsley, and marjoram.  Then into the roasting pan on a bed of onions, carrots, and celery.

It gets roasted for 30 minutes on high (475°) heat, then the temp is lowered and you add white wine, orange juice, and stock to the roasting pan and cook until a thermometer says  you’re not going to poison your guests (165° should do it).

All ready for the oven

Now all you need is the “l’orange” part of the recipe.  While DUCK was roasting, I made my orange sauce.  Start by caramelizing sugar in a sauce pan, which basically means letting it melt slowly.  It will turn a deep brown, then add orange juice, salt, and white wine vinegar.

CAUTION: not only does this splash and sizzle, it will form a hard rock of sugar in the middle.  You will think you’ve destroyed the meal.  I actually threw my first try away.  Then I re-read the recipe to find that with low heat and stirring, that sugar lump will slowly dissolve and you’ll have a thick citrusy syrup.

This syrup gets added to the pan drippings, some stock, and orange zest. Stir and thicken and Viola! Sauce l’orange!

Ready for the big reveal?!

Roasted duck...ready to get sauced.

TA-DA!   The duck was moist with a salty, seasoned skin.  Duck tastes like the dark meat of turkey, but it’s got even more of a wild, meaty flavor.  And the sauce: a revelation!  Not too sweet or too heavy.  The orange zest really pops against the darker richness of the duck.  Wow…I can’t believe I just wrote that.  The sauce is great with the duck and well worth the sugar hardening confusion.  Now what to cover with the leftover sauce???…..

UNFORESEEN BONUS: I discovered duck is not only available in flyover country, it is really reasonable.  Granted, I did have to buy it frozen, but our almost 6 lb. friend was only $11!  Not bad for an alternative to chicken.

I think after Sunday, the 1960’s are back in the Flyover House!

Just without the smoking and the gender roles.  And sadly, without the fabulous hats.   But they definitely got some things right.  So pour yourself a Moscow Mule and enjoy!

xoxo Flyover Foodie

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