Jacques Pepin's ultimate New Year's Eve dish

Celebrity chef Jacques Pepin has spent more than 60 years cooking up a storm, preparing classic French cuisine both in France and the United States.

One of the most respected chefs in the world, his reputation as a master of French cuisine only slightly exceeds his reputation as one of the nicest people in the business. No one has a bad thing to stay about this adorable Frenchman.

Most people will recognize him as Julia Child's cooking sidekick. He's also cooked for heads of state.

Jacques has won numerous awards, including two of France's highest honors - he is a Chevalier de L'order des Arts et des Lettres (1997) and a Chevalier de L'ordre du Merite Agricole (1992.) In 2004, he received France's ultimate civilian recognition, the Legion d'Honneur.

He's penned 26 cookbooks and his most recent, "Essential Pepin," also runs as a cooking series on PBS.

Jacques loves teaching as much as cooking and, since 1998, has been Dean of Special Programs at the French Culinary Institute in New York. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Boston University.

In "THE Dish" on "The Early Show on Saturday Morning," Jacques showcased a special dish for New Year's Eve - his ultimate - Roast Duck with Orange Sauce.

Enjoy all our "Early Show" recipes!

RECIPES

Roast Duck with Orange Sauce

Serves 8

Many restaurants serve duck breasts rare and the legs braised, but the classic way of preparing duck for the holidays is to roast it whole and serve it with orange sauce. It is excellent with wild rice.

  • 2 ducks (about 5 pounds each)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup cold water

SAUCE AND GARNISH

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped leeks
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed but not peeled
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose fl our
  • 4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-salt canned chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 5 navel oranges
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons currant jelly
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Remove the neck, gizzard, liver, and heart from each duck and set side (you can enjoy the sauteed livers on bread with a glass of wine while you are cooking, if you like). Cut the wings off each duck and reserve.

Season the ducks inside and out with the salt and pepper. Place breast side up in a large roasting pan and add the water. Roast for 1 hour.

Pour off all the fat that has accumulated in the pan, or remove it with a bulb baster. Continue roasting the ducks for another 45 minutes.

MEANWHILE, FOR THE SAUCE: Cut the duck necks, hearts, and gizzards into 2-inch pieces. Cut the wings apart at the joints.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot until hot. Add the duck parts and sautee, turning occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until they are browned on all sides. Add the vegetables, herbs, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and flour, mixing well. Add the stock and wine and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 1 hour.

Strain the sauce. (You should have about 3 cups.) Set aside.

Remove the rind of one of the oranges in strips with a vegetable peeler, taking care not to pick up any of the white pith underneath the skin. Stack a few strips at a time and cut lengthwise into thin julienne strips. Blanch the strips in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute, then drain in a strainer and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

Squeeze the juice from the peeled orange and another of the oranges; you should have 1 cup juice. Using a paring knife, peel the 3 remaining oranges right down to the flesh. Separate the segments by cutting down along the membranes surrounding the segments, so that you have only pure flesh sections. Set aside.

When the ducks have roasted for 1 hour and 45 minutes, transfer them to an ovenproof platter; set the roasting pan aside. Keep the ducks warm in a 160-degree oven while you finish the sauce. (If you only have one oven, turn off the oven and leave the door open for about 5 minutes, then return the ducks to the oven to keep warm.)

Skim the fat from the duck cooking juices and add the sauce to the roasting pan. Bring to a boil, stirring to melt all the solidified juices, then strain again.

Combine the sugar and vinegar in a large heavy saucepan, bring to a boil, and boil for about 4 minutes, until the mixture turns a pale caramel color. Add the orange juice and currant jelly and bring to a boil, then add the strained sauce and simmer for about 8 minutes. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if needed, and stir in the Grand Marnier. Finally, add the butter bit by bit, shaking the pan as you add it so it blends into the sauce.

Spoon some of the sauce over the ducks. Sprinkle the top with the julienned orange rind and surround with the orange sections as garnish. Carve at the table, or present the duck, then bring back into the kitchen to carve. Serve the extra sauce on the side.

FOR BONUS RECIPES FROM JACQUES, GO TO PAGE 2.

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