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Cooking duck breast sous vide

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I plan to serve duck breast for dinner I have in few days. Was wandering about the right sequence of events - does anyone have advice?


Whole duck breast

Day 1: Jaccard+ Dry rub (spices + salt), 24 hours

Day 2: 30 min pan to render fat under the skin, cool, vacuum and back to fridge

Day3: Sous vide for ~60 min at 60C, then quickly pan sear

I am unsure about the rendering step before sous vide - effect on final taste but also food safty. I am trying to avoind 30 min rendering after sous vide on the night of the dinner.

Any suggestions?

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I'm mildly concerned about jaccarding and safety, too; since you're leaving the dry rub on long enough to penetrate the meat without jaccarding, I'm not sure it's worth it.

How low of a temperature are you planning on using, if you're rendering out the fat for half an hour?

I generally start a duck breast skin side down in a cold pan, turn the heat to medium, and just keep an eye on it. Takes maybe 15 minutes for most of the fat to render out and leave the skin nicely crisped and browned (at this point, being a Luddite about this sort of thing, I turn up the heat, flip the breast, and brown the other side for a few minutes, which gives me a nice pink centre and well browned exterior).

If you're doing this sous vide, you might just want to remove the skin and crisp it between a couple of Silpats; in a bag, it's just going to be flabby (after dirtying a pan, to boot).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums

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I've never cooked sous vide, but i have cooked duck breast before. I too would think that rendering out the fat and crisping the skin by cooking it for 30 minutes, even at a low heat, would cook the meat a good deal.

In any case, I am interested in the answer to this. I like duck breast, but I do have "issues" cooking the skin to a nice crispness and rendering the fat without overcooking the meat. I'm sure sous vide is a great way to handle the meat, but don't quite know how the skin gets handled. Cooking it separate, as Michaela suggests, seems like the best approach.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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just in case you dont want them to make sous vide, here is my failsafe and very perfect way to make duckbreasts. it worked all the time for me!

cut crosses in the breasts skin.

place the breasts in a COLD pan without any oil or fat, skinside down, and put on high heat.

grill is until brown and nice on both sides.

then place in the oven, 25-30 minuted at 100 degrees celsius.

after that repeat the first step placing the breast, this time only skinside down, in a cold pan without fat and create a nice crispy skin.

you wont be disappointed!

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This is the same problem that you have with chicken, which is how do you get the skin crispy while cooking the breast perfectly. Duck has the added complication of rendering off the extra layer of fat.

My own preference would be to remove the skin and fat completely and apply the dry rub without jaccarding. Removing the skin means that you'll get better overall penetration of the rub over the 24 hr period and not jaccarding means you will not potentially be pushing potential pathogens into the meat.

My personal preference for duck breast is to have it pink so I'd probably treat it more like a steak and cook it at 57C for an hour or so.

To make the skin crispy, you cook it by putting it between two baking trays sandwiched two silpats with weights on top of the top tray. Given the fat that will render off, I'd additionally put an inverted tray on top of the bottom baking tray to give a place for the fat to flow into. So you'd have (bottom tray, inverted tray, silpat, skin, silpat, top tray). Cook it at 180C (350F) to crisp it and render off the fat. Trim the skin to make it neat and then serve the skin chip on top of your perfectly cooked duck breast.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Thanks so far. I actually make a killer duck breast, with brown crispy skin and moist pink meat, first in 70C oven (vacuum packed) for an hour, then finish in the pan. My duck may have a very thick fat layer bc rendering takes me forever, even scored. 30 mins is maybe too high of an estimate but it takes long. I was hoping to get sous vide to give me this flexibility with the timing of the courses plus a new experience. I could also do jaccard after dry rub and before sous vide. Nick's method is probably closest to what i need but i am still curious about browning meat and fiishing in sous vide later (day later)

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I would probably just skip the jaccarding.

I cook a lot of duck breasts at home, most of the time sous vide. Be aware that getting a great crisp skin on a duck breast after its been cooked sous vide is not a sure bet, somehting about the cooking process makes it hard to get a really crispy skin without cooking the meat past your sous vide temp. I have started going with alternate presentations and cooking the breast and the duck skin separately. I serve the breast sliced skin/fat off along with fried crispy duck skin.

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I did duck breast last weekend and did it the same way as Twyst, taking off the skin and baking it in the oven between two silpats with somethin on top to keep them flat. I normally do 2 hours at 58° and no jaccarding before. just s+p and some thyme into the bag

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I usually do it the way most do, remove the skin, then sv at 57... but I was wondering - what if you did skin on SV first, then chilled completely, then skin side down in a medium pan. Maybe by the time the fat renders, the meat will be brought back up to temp without going too high?

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I usually do it the way most do, remove the skin, then sv at 57... but I was wondering - what if you did skin on SV first, then chilled completely, then skin side down in a medium pan. Maybe by the time the fat renders, the meat will be brought back up to temp without going too high?

I do that with turkey breast and don't have a problem with doneness of the breast after frying skin down in oil. Comes out great. But that's a much bigger piece of meat than a duck which might well overcook while frying. Experimentation is called-for. One might intentionally undercook during the SV phase...

Edited by gfweb (log)
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sous vide at 140 degrees for 45-60 minutes. (use duck fat or butter in the bag, leave the skin on the breast) the day before, refrigerate.

the following day (or within the week), remove from the frdige/bag, season at this point, score the skin/fat.

render the fat and crisp the skin (and rewarm the breast) in a saute pan, skin side down, then flip over and 1-2 minutes on the other side to finish rewarming - serve.

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