Cumberland Sauce

Cumberland Sauce

A Recipe from Wilson’s Meat Cookery (1941)

About the Recipe

At the start of the quarantine, my husband and I were stocking up at the grocery store, and I said “I’m going to try to cook duck!” Because – why not? It was a long road ahead and duck is something that we usually only get now and then in China-town. So I grabbed two duck breasts and started getting excited.

But then I discovered – there aren’t a ton of duck recipes. Modern or vintage, there are really only a handful of ways to cook a duck, and the easiest and tastiest is just to sear it. Score the skin side of the breast, and then put it skin side down in a hot pan over medium flame. Let the fat render and drain it off as it starts to spatter. Once the fat’s rendered and the skin is crispy (5-7 minutes) flip it over and sear the other side. And that’s it! Done!

So how do we make it vintage – with the sauce! This light, citrus-y sauce is the perfect accompaniment to the seared duck. I poured it over and let it soak briefly. Perfection.

There was plenty left over, so it’s saved to try some other ways. It should make a great dressing for a spinach salad, and I’m actually betting that it’s pretty good swirled in some yogurt or over vanilla ice cream.

About the book

This book came in the mail today and it was total kismet. The duck breasts were sitting, thawing on the counter and I opened the book right to the sauce. It came as part of a box from Bonnie Slotnick’s Cookbooks, a small cookbook shop in NYC’s East Village. If you’re ever in town, I highly recommend checking it out. Bonnie is delightful and her cookbook knowledge is encyclopedic. I can’t wait to dig into this book for more meat dishes in the future!

About the glassware

I love pulling out this Butterfly Gold Corelle platter. It was a gift from a friend who would have enjoyed this duck very much. It’s not super old, but it makes me smile.

The Recipe!


3 T red currant jelly
2 T port wine
2 T orange juice
1 T lemon juice
1 t mixed mustard
1 t paprika
1/2 t ground ginger
3 T orange rind, finely shredded


Melt jelly over low fire until liquid. Cool, add port wine, orange juice, lemon juice and spices. Cover orange rind with cold water, bring to boil and drain. Add blanched orange rind to first mixture and serve. 

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