When I think of the Family Christmas I think of that lunch around my grandparents' table, my cousin Marco and I at the head of the table on one side, Uncle Adriano and Aunt Santina at Marco's side, Dad and Mom at my side, and Grandpa and Grandma in front of us. Under the plate, Marco and I always found £50,000 first and €50 later: Grandma always 'stretched' the official gift she gave us with Grandpa! Grandpa, on the other hand, being a restorer of antique furniture, always made us choose a few pieces with which we would one day embellish our home. How much beauty in that 'taken for granted' gesture of all getting together to enjoy a special lunch prepared with love by Grandma! Every year the two 'main' dishes were always the same: the cappelletti in broth (prepared with an uncle's chicken or capon) and theorange duck! Since Grandpa passed away in 2009, Christmas has never been the same for me.

Uncle Adrian had already left us a few years ago, then my cousin Marco got engaged to the undisputed queen of human cases and we lost him for 10 long years. Meanwhile, in 2013 grandma passed away and in 2018 my dad. Our family Christmas fell apart and since then we started going to theTrerè farmhouse in Faenza (RA) that I adore (the only place where you can eat cappelletti in broth as good as I do). The tradition of playing Risk after Christmas lunch, I lost it with my family and gained it with my fraternal friend Marco. We all searched for a new balance that would make us rewrite our concept of normality. 

This year is the first year I will not see Mama and my Aunt Santina on Christmas Day. Forced quarantine forced us to celebrate an early Christmas at Trerè last Sunday, which was 20 December. I have to say that I was really moved: for the first time there was my whole family - the one left over from the illnesses that decimated it - around the table again. And for the first time my husband Francesco was there with us. We were there, all together, over cappelletti in broth, exchanging beautiful gifts. The day is not so important after all, don't you think? What really matters is health, because even when you hear that people die, from an accident or illness, you always live in the bubble that it won't happen to you. Until you come to terms with it.

cappelletti in broth barbera colli tortonesi

On Christmas Eve...

Today is 24 December and tonight I am making cappelletti in broth. I have prepared a delicious filling with tara cheese, yellow malga cheese and robiola from the Mazzucchelli butcher's shop in Monte Isolawhere I live. I have to say that with their cheeses the cappelletti di magro (this is the name of those typical of Ravenna with a filling made only of cheese, yolk, and nutmeg) are even better. The broth is made with tongue, a bone, the rind of the yellow cheese and vegetables, non-fat and super tasty... just the way we like it. Paired with this wonderful Barbera Sant'Andrea 2019 dei Colli Tortonesi by Vigne Marina Coppi. It has a beautiful intense ruby red colour with violet reflections, consistent. The nose is intense, vinous, with mineral and spicy notes that intertwine with scents of both fresh and jammy red fruits. In the mouth it has a very pleasant texture that gives it great drinkability, it is soft, fresh and balanced. One goblet leads to another! 😍

I have already marinated the duck (which always comes from the same butcher shop) for lunch tomorrow. Now, having told you why orange duck is so important to me, I want to explain the recipe step by step to share one more little piece of my family history.

Duck in orange: a bit of history

We call it duck à l'orange, the French call it canard à l'orange... and have made it a symbol of French cuisine. Actually, this refined second course originated in Tuscany at the Medici court and was exported to France by a woman, or rather an exceptional queen Catherine de Medici in 1547when she went to marry King Henry II. Her cooks called her duck with melarancio because they used orange to preserve and to cover the flavour of the meat, which was not always very fresh. After all, at the time, there were certainly not the means of preservation as there are today!

Grandmother was from Romagna, but her sisters married Florentines and a branch of my family is from Florence. I believe that the preparation of duck with orange on Christmas Day derives from this. I would like to point out that this recipe is the one my family taught me to make and therefore it is not exactly the original one, but after trying both I prefer our version.


Before explaining the recipe, I recommend you buy this baking tray from Tescoma which is perfect because it can be used on any surface, induction included! La Tescoma 605068 SmartClick Grill Pan is large, 42 x 28 cm and is perfect for holding your main course and side dish! Moreover, having differentiated cooking zones also allows you to bake everything at once because it cooks less on the edges and so you avoid burning the potatoes. I move it from the induction hob to the oven, and from the oven to the table and from the table to the dishwasher: it's also great as a serving dish! A wonderful gift from my cousin, thank you!

You will find it on offer on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Duck in orange: Grandma Mira's recipe

Ingredients for 2 sweethearts

(but you can easily eat it in 4 if you combine it with the first course)!

  • 1 large duck (1.5 to 2 kg net of cleaning)

For the sunburn:

  • 50g of passito wine (grandmother used Albana di Romagna)
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • a few tufts of butter
  • a pinch of coarse salt

For marinating:

  • 2 large oranges with edible peel
  • 50g Contreau or Grand Marnier liqueur (I used a fragrant Gin today because I didn't have any at home)
  • 50g raisin wine
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 tablespoon caster sugar
  • 10 black peppercorns, preferably from Jamaica
  • some butter

For the 'stuffing':

  • the solid parts of the marinade
  • 3 orange slices cut into wedges and stripped of their whites
  • a few knobs of butter

For the sauce (which you will use to caramelise the duck):

  • the filtered marinade (all the solids are put into the duck)
  • the peel of 1 large orange cut into strips
  • 10g maize starch (cornflour)
  • 20g water

For the baked potatoes:

  • 2 large potatoes (I like Sila IGP potatoes)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • halls
  • 1 sprig of rosemary

Easy recipe in 4 steps:

(if possible start the afternoon before)

Step 1 - marinating

  1. In a bowl prepare the marinade by putting the liqueur, the peel of the oranges (which you have peeled with a potato peeler, taking care not to add the white part), the juice of the squeezed oranges, the raisin wine, the tablespoon of sugar and the ground pepper. Thinly slice the onion and add it, then mix well.
  2. Wash the duck with cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel. Choose a suitable container, lay the duck in it and pour the marinade over it, keeping some of the solid part aside to insert into the duck from the cleaning hole, let's say. Close the container with its lid or with cling film and place it in the lowest shelf of the fridge for between 8 and 24 hours.
duck in orange wine pairing recipe

Christmas Day...

Step 2 - blanching and first cooking (to be done about 3 hours before lunch)

  1. Take a very good extra virgin olive oil and put two tablespoons of it on the pan with a few tufts of butter, then heat it on a medium heat (with induction I use it at 6). My tescoma pan has these great silicone 'grips' that don't burn your hands when you move it.
  2. Peel an orange and keep the rind aside (you will soon cut it into strips). Cut it into slices and remove the white with the help of a knife, then make segments and stuff the duck... put in what fits (about 3 slices).
  3. Strain the marinade and keep it aside, while using the solid parts (onion, orange peel, peppercorns...) stuff the duck. Close the butt hole with a couple of toothpicks.
  4. Dry the duck perfectly with paper towel or other kitchen paper.
  5. then place it on the hot pan and brown it 5 minutes on each side. Deglaze with the raisin wine (a coffee cup, about 50 g) and as soon as the alcohol has evaporated turn it over and leave it for another 5 minutes.
  6. Turn on the static oven at 160°C and insert the probe (if you don't have one). co buy it now on Amazon by clicking HERE, this is great, I used it with my previous oven! My new oven has a built-in probe and automatically switches off when the core temperature I set is reached).
  7. Massage the duck breast with a tuft of room temperature butter.
  8. When the oven is hot, put it in the oven on a medium-low shelf (I put it in the third one from the top) so that the meat does not burn and cook at a low temperature until the duck reaches 60°C at the heart (depending on the oven, it will take about 1 hour).
orange duck recipe pairing
orange duck recipe

Step 3 - preparations while the duck is cooking

  1. Cut the potatoes into wedges and place them in a bowl (I use aluminium ones), then add the chopped rosemary, a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt. Mix well with a spoon and keep aside.
  2. Prepare the accompanying sauce. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to the boil over medium heat, then add the orange strips and leave to boil for exactly 5 minutes.
  3. Dissolve the cornflour in the water to avoid lumps and add it to the sauce.
  4. Stir continuously for a few minutes until the sauce thickens and becomes creamy, then add a clump of butter and turn off the heat.
orange duck recipe

Step 4 - cooking the potatoes and caramelisation

  1. Take the duck out of the oven as soon as it has reached 60°C at the core (about 1 hour).
  2. Raise the oven to 200°C and preheat it while you do the rest.
  3. Brush the duck with the sauce until it is finished.
  4. Arrange the potatoes around the duck on the same baking tray.
  5. Bake until the duck has reached 70°C at the heart... in the meantime the potatoes should be cooked (about 20 minutes)!
  6. Raise the duck one level, switch on the grill function and keep it for another 5/7 minutes to caramelise to perfection.

orange duck recipe

Duck with orange: paired with Timorasso di Vigne Marina Coppi

A wine dedicated to Francesco Bellocchio's grandfather, who with his wife Anna leads this pearl in the Colli Tortonesi: Fausto Coppi. Perfect, since this recipe is dedicated to my grandmother! ❤️

The 2017 Fausto timorasso is exceptional. I had already tasted the Fausto 2015 (read the tasting HERE) and I had loved it, but this 2017 for me absolutely has an edge. I recognised the same notes as in 2015, but even cleaner and more pronounced hydrocarbons. It is an intense and bright straw yellow, consistent. The nose is intense, elegant and distinctive. Hints of orange, hydrocarbons, white pepper, cumin and saltiness are discernible. In the mouth it is consistent, fresh, savoury, warm, balanced and very persistent. If the 2015 was enriched with softer notes in the mouth and nuances of white chocolate, the 2017 is much more citrus and mineral.

Congratulations indeed!

The pairing with the orange duck is truly perfect in terms of aroma, structure and flavour. The duck in orange is slightly sweet and sour and has a bitter note given by the caramelisation of the sauce on the skin that contrasts with the savoury freshness of the timorasso. The meat is very tasty and rich in citrus nuances that agree with the bouquet and structure of this wine. The sauce, with the duck's humours melted in butter, is deflated by alcohol.


How did you spend this Christmas?

I sincerely hope you will try to make my duck à l'orange with timorasso Fausto di Vigne Marina Coppi as a pairing to pamper your family as soon as possible. This second is perfect any day of the year, fear not! 😌

Cheers 🥂


P.S. Scroll down the page to leave me a comment and tell me if you liked it... or ask me for a cooking or pairing tip!

P.P.S. As you can see on the cover photo, I also prepared breadsticks, click HERE for my recipe from the book The Aristopiatti!

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