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mercury529

Sous Vide Duck

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Hello All,

I am newly registered on the forum, though I have read a lot of material from the forum. It is a wealth of information and knowledge, so I thought I'd reach out.

I recently purchased an immersion circulator, so I am learning about sous vide techniques. I have decided to tackle duck sous vide. Before I had my immersion circulator, I followed Alton Brown's method for preparing duck (quarter, brine, steam, and sear). My favorite part of the technique was the significant amount of duck fat that rendered into the steaming vessel for other uses. Without any research, my inclination would be to brine and steam the duck quarters, sous vide cook to desired internal temperature, and crisp the skin in a blazing hot pan or via blowtorch.

When I researched duck sous vide, I could not find any recipes that included the steaming step and very few with a pre-sous vide rendering step. So I had a few questions:

1.) Would duck quarters cooked sous vide benefit from a steaming step to render out some of the excess fat?

2.) Do duck quarters cooked sous vide, without a pre-sous vide rendering step, still allow for you to gather and save the rendered fat for later use?

3.) Is there a good technique for cooking a quartered duck in a single water bath for a single meal?

Thanks a lot for any input you can give.


Edited by mercury529 (log)

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I can't address a lot of your questions, except the last:

the dark meat is cooked at a higher temp then the breast.

by 1/4 I assume you mean 2 breasts, two leg/thigh units.

If you want all this 'ready' at the same time, you need to do the legs first at a longer and higher temp, then the breasts at a lower temp for less time

or do them in advance, as you like each, rapid chill, keep in the coldest part of the refrig until needed, then re-heat at the lower temp for the breast.

If you are skillful skin the duck, save the skin and finish the skin in the oven between two (non-stick) sheets and a second jelly roll pan on to to crispy. save that fat

for the carcass, render the fat in the traditional way. there will be very little fat on the BR. and the LG/Thigh

hope this points you in the right direction.

consider the book by Baldwin "Sous vide for the home cook' worth it.

best of luck!

we ( I ) love to see pics of your experiments!

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"-------If you are skillful skin the duck, save the skin and finish the skin in the oven between two (non-stick) sheets and a second jelly roll pan on to to crispy. save that fat-----"

No, you don't need skill, you need compressed air. :cool:

Me, skinning a duck.

dcarch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LeD4O7EDGFk


Edited by dcarch (log)
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all-righty then: taking the duck down to the Home Workshop !

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I don't think there is a need to do a steaming step, but if you get successful results with it let me know. It may be beneficial for the brests as they are cooked at a much lower temp than the legs (I usually do the brests in a pan).

You will get some rendered fat in the bag but it will certainly carry the flavor of the meat and the seasonsings.

My recommendation is to save as much of the skin and fat from the rest of the duck when you break it down.

Run that reserved fat/skin and through a grinder and then put the ground mixutre in a bag and sous vide that for an hour at 180F.

Strain out the hot liquid into a container and let it cool a bit, you can then put it in the fridge to solidify the fat.

You'll have a layer of geletain under the fat that can be used in soups/sauces. You should seperate the duck fat from from the geletain as the geletain will spoil in about a week but the fat will last a very long time.


Edited by Michael L. (log)

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Thanks a lot for the responses.

Now that I think about, the sous vide provides the perfect opportunity to compare techniques. I could steam one half of the bird not steam the other half and cook in the same water bath (ensuring a controlled cooking comparison pre-sear). And if I sear in the same pan, I should get a fairly controlled result for comparison. I'll share what I find.

rotuts: Good suggestions for crisping up the skin and rendering. I'll look into Baldwin's book. I am not a picture-takey person by nature. But maybe if I convince myself it's for science, I can be :)

dcarch: What compelled you to even attempt that in the first place, haha?

Michael: I'd never heard about that grinder technique. That sounds like it might be considerably easier than the steaming method for rendering fat (no worrying about water content or burning the fat). Is that your favorite approach for rendering duck/goose fat now? I assume after separating the gelatin, can you add it in with the remainder of the carcass to make a good stock?


Edited by mercury529 (log)

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if you dont have a grinder, and do have a food processor : save all the skin / fat ( scrape it from the carcass everywhere )

then cut into fairs sized chunks, put in the freezer on a sheet pan until very firm , then pulse a few times in the processor,

rechill and do this a few times. it breaks up the tissue so then the fat can be rendered either by SV at 180 or in a pan on the stove top or a pan w lid in the oven.

if you do it the pan way, after the water boils out, heat the mash carefully to the sizzle point and you get Crispy Skin Chips

season w salt while hot and devour ! these are best not shared ! :blink:

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Shades of Eileen Lin Fi Low (I'm not sure I have her name correct; she is/was married to Fred Ferretti, who wrote for Gourmet magazine, years ago) and her bicycle pump!


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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The grinder technique is from Thomas Keller's Under Pressure cook book. I find it's the easiest way to render the fat and provides a better yield than just putting the skin in the bag. I've heard of people rendering the fat in a microwave, but I haven't tried it myself.

The geltain is great for stock or sauces to add some flavor and texture.

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I'm sure the grinding method produces the highest yield, but it's not necessary to render most of the fat. I'd say one can get about 90% of it by simply dicing the skin and cooking in a small pot on the stove. That's based on preparing duck skin cracklings long before I'd heard of sous vide. Admittedly cracklings are a bit fiddly, but if one is only after the fat a covered pot will work fine and is much easier. Whereas sous vide for the skin from a duck or two seems like overkill to me. (Keller presumably is generally working with much larger quantities.) For that matter, with legs, sous vide cooking itself renders about 80% of the fat with no special treatment of the skin as such. It's mostly the breast we're talking about here.

Note that grind vs. dice and stovetop vs. sous vide are separate issues. One could do either of A with either of B.

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pbear: Absolutely, there are many ways to render fat. For me, the sous vide is pretty easy, I'm probably going to cook the duck legs in the water bath anyway. The main benefit is that once the skin is in the water bath it doesn't really need tending to. Grinding it on the other hand is a bit of a pain because of the cleanup.

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A lot of good discussion here.

Michael, any thoughts on whether you could remove the bag of fat/gelatin after sous vide, chill it, and freeze it from there for a later use? I often don't have immediate use for what I render and wouldn't mind being able to store it in the same bag.

Have you tried freezing the skin beforehand to firm it in up in the grinder? Maybe that would help with the cleaning aspect.

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I don't think freezing the skin beforehand will have any negative inpact on rendering the fat. The water bath will bring it up to temperature pretty quickly.

Freezing the whole bag post rendering may be a problem, I'm not sure how easy it will be to seperate frozen geletain and frozen fat. Seperating the two once they have solidifed in the fridge is pretty easy. As long as the fat isn't tained (i.e. you left some geletain in the container) it will last in your fridge for at least a month or more.

One word of caution when taking the rendered fat out of the water bath. The fat is extremely hot and if your bag isn't sealed well (which sometimes happens when vacuum sealing moist items) you can get burned and make a mess. Always be careful removing a bag from the hot water bath.

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If I'm using the fat for savory purposes, this is what I'll do:

Get a big pot of water boiling (this water is later used to make duck stock)

blanch the deboned trimmings in the water for 1 - 2 minutes until all the pink is gone and the fat feels firm to the touch

remove with a spider, let drain briefly, then put in a food processor

pulse quickly 5 or 6 times until fat is broken up into small chunks

put into a non-stick saucepan over high heat, stirring frequently until you start hearing the sounds of frying

adjust heat so fat stays at between 250F and 300F until bubbling stops completely

drain fat through a sieve into a measuring cup & let cool to room temperature

The fat will form two distinct layers, a solid and liquid layer (possibly with some brown sludge at the bottom)

Carefully decant the liquid layer into a bottle with a pour spout and use for general cooking, pour out the solid layer into a mason jar or other container and use for deep frying

I basically use duck fat in place of vegetable oil when I'm cooking and, when I run out, I buy two more whole ducks to process.

SV is great if you want to get a cleaner, unheated fat for baking but, IMHO, adding in the slightly roasty flavors from browning works better for savory applications. Go much above 300 and you start breaking down the fat too much and it doesn't respond as well to high heat cooking.


PS: I am a guy.

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If you're just looking for fat (and not cracklings) I'd like to suggest nathanm's idea of the "fat shake". Rough chop the fat/skin and put in a blender, covering with water. Blend until completely liquified then pour into an SV bag or you can do covered on the stovetop. Makes the most yield I've ever seen.

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blender is a good idea.

clean up a bit easier w hotwater/soap/wizzzzz.

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I often stop at a Chinese BBQ on my way home from the Men's Mission where I work on Fridays. I noticed one day that someone was buying duck fat from them - for $1/lb. This is the globs of fat that the mom in the restaurant pulls out of the cavities of the ducks before they roast them.

For the last couple of weeks I've stopped in a brought a bit home to render down.

IMG_0954.jpg

I put it in this stainless container, then pop that into the pressure cooker for a couple of hours.

IMG_0956.jpg

When it cools sufficiently I pour off the fat and juices.

Then upside down in the fridge in a jar with relatively straight sides so I can open them and pour off the jelly from the top.

IMG_0957.jpg

I don't bother to make the fat milkshake in the thermomix anymore - don't think I ever got all the tissue out of the blade I had to retire recently. I might be able to get a little more fat out if I did - but I'm not convinced the extra work is worth it.

And even better - they haven't charged me a penny for the fat I've gotten from them. I suspect it's because I'm a pretty regular customer there.


Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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""" upside down in the fridge in a jar with relatively straight sides so I can open them and pour off the jelly from the top. """

brilliant.

my emphasis.

Brilliant.

:biggrin:

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""" upside down in the fridge in a jar with relatively straight sides so I can open them and pour off the jelly from the top. """

brilliant.

my emphasis.

Brilliant.

:biggrin:

It really does work amazingly well... after the confit cookoff, I had a few bunch of fat and stock after it was all said and done. I just put it into pint containers and let it chill upside down, and the disks of perfect clear stock lifted right off easily!

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Hey Everyone,

Thanks again for all the input. I wanted to update everyone on the results. I took pictures but they frankly are not terribly illuminating so they won't bring anything to the table.

So for my experiment I quartered a duck into 2 breast quarters and 2 leg quarters and scored the skin. I brined the duck for 3 hours. I then removed the quarters from the brine and patted them dry. I placed 1 leg quarter and 1 duck breast directly into a vacuum bag (individually sealed). I placed the remaining 2 quarters into a colander and steamed them for approximately an hour. After that was complete, I sealed both in vacuum bags. I prepared the duck breast the same day and saved the legs for the next day.

For the duck breasts, I followed the Serious Eats method. I set the temperature to 135 F and placed the duck breasts in for 1 hour. I removed both from their packaging directly into a cold All Clad Saute Pan skin side down. I turned the heat to high until it sizzled. I dropped the heat to medium and rendered out as much of the fat as I could. I removed the breasts to a paper towel-lined plate and rested them for 10 minutes. The fat rendered out more completely from the steamed duck breast and resulted in a slightly crispier skin. The steamed duck breast may have been slightly drier near the ends as a result of the steaming. The results for the duck legs were much the same (the same method but 167 F for 12 hours). Both the breasts and legs came out very flavorful, nicely seasoned, and at a great doneness. It was undoubtedly the best duck I have ever made. Even with a mediocre frozen grocery store duck which I got for $1 per pound, it was better than most of what I have had in restaurants.

While the steaming method yielded better results for the skin, I don't feel it was frankly worth the extra effort. But I am glad I did the experiment. The next time, I will try removing the skin and crisping it separately as suggested previously. I think that will frankly yield a more desirable result.

Thanks again for all the input.

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Host's note:  this post and several following it were moved from the "Cooking burgers sous vide" topic.

 

 

 

i have not done duck breasts SV yet.   i do have a duck resting in the freezer, at some point Im going to do the two trimmed 

 

 

I've not found a way to get the best of both worlds without separating the meat from the skin. There are topics on eG about this. The meat comes out great, but gets overcooked during the rendering process. I haven't yet tried undercooking the breast SV then rendering. 

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Ill look that thread over

 

Id take off the skin and cook that via a pan sear. for the breasts   not the legs  confit


Edited by rotuts (log)

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Ill look that thread over

 

Id take off the skin and cook that via a pan sear. for the breasts   not the legs  confit

Ah, if you're planning to do them separate, you're golden. Just be ready for the skin to curl and warp. I hear a panini press is aces for this.

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      Instant Tropical Pudding
      Freeze Dried Powders of coconut, pineapple, banana
      Young coconut water spiked with rum
      Muscovado Sugar
      Cilantro
      Candied Chili
      Jamaican Peppercorn
      Vanilla Bean
      The steps required to comprise each dish are, as one might imagine, intricate and numerous. For the Poached Broccoli Stem, Chef Grant begins by separating the broccoli stems from the florets. The stems are stripped of their fibrous exteriors and pared down until they are uniform in size. Grant comments on the use of the second hand part of the vegetable: “This dish started with the roe. Every year we receive the most amazing Brook Trout Roe from Steve Stallard, my friend and owner of Blis. Typically, we serve the eggs with an element of sweetness. I find it goes very well with the ultra fresh salinity of the week-old roe. This time around we wanted to take a savory approach so I began looking into complimenting flavors in the vegetal category. About the same time, our group had a discussion about secondary parts of vegetables and the stem of broccoli came up. I had a past experience with the stem and found it to be very reminiscent of cabbage. Knowing that cabbage and caviar are essentially a classic pairing, I felt confident that we could work the dish out. Now I'm struggling to decide if this is a broccoli dish or in fact a roe dish, I think they really battle for the top position and that helps makes the dish very complex."

      Chef Grant processing the broccoli

      The stems are placed in a polyethylene bag, along with butter, salt and granulated cane juice. The bag is sealed with a cryovac machine

      The sealed stems are placed in a 170 degree F water to cook, sous vide, until extremely tender; about three hours

      Broccoli stems after cooking
      The crisp bread element is fabricated via the use of an industrial deli slicer. Chef Grant then brushes the sectioned pieces of poached broccoli stem with eggwash, affixes them to the thin planks of brioche and places them in a fry pan with butter.

      Grant's mise...not your ordinary cutting board

      Poached Broccoli Stem and Crisp Bread cooking

      Ready for plating

      A bright green broccoli puree is made with a vita-prep blender. Here, Chef Grant "mohawks" it onto china given to him by Thomas Keller

      Smoked Coho roe has arrived via Fed-Ex, courtesy of Steve Stallard

      Chef Grant devises a plating scheme for the Poached Broccoli Stem while Curtis looks on

      Chef Grant ponders one potential plating of the dish. He called this incarnation 'predictable' and started over.

      Another plating idea. This version is garnished with broccoli petals and ultra-thin slices of connected grapefruit pulp cells. The yellow petals are stand-ins for what will ultimately be broccoli blossoms
      Grant is still displeased at the dish's appearance. "The dish tastes as I envisioned it....texturally complex, with the crispness of the bread, the soft elements of the floret puree and stem, and the pop of the eggs. The buttery richness from the bread gives the stem the flavor of the melted cabbage I loved at the [French] Laundry. And the hot and cold contrasts from the roe and broccoli …I like it…..I just don’t like the way it looks.” Another attempt and the group agrees, it is better but not “the one.” The use of the thinly sliced cross sections of peeled grapefruit energizes the group. In the next rendition, they make small packets with the ultra thinly-sliced grapefruit containing the roe...

      A third plating configuration for Poached Broccoli Stems; this one featuring the packets of roe wrapped in ultra thin sheets of grapefruit pulp cells
      At this point the team decides to move on and come back to it next week. After some conversation they decide that in the final dish, broccoli will appear in at least 5 forms: poached stems, floret puree, some raw form of the stem, the tiny individual sprouts of broccoli florets, and the blooms. Grant feels that Poached Broccoli Stem could be ready for service, although he still envisions some changes for the dish that will make it even more emblematic of his personal style. “Our dishes continue to evolve after they hit the menu. It is important for us to get to know them better before we can clearly see their weaknesses.”
      The thought for the dried crème brulee originated over a year ago when a regular customer jokingly asked for a crème brulee for dessert. “He said it as joke, I took it as a challenge,” says Grant. "Of course, we never intended to give him a regular crème brulee.” The team tried various techniques to create the powder-filled caramel bubble while at Trio to no avail. An acceptable filling for the Dried Crème Brulee has been developed by the Chef and his team but several different methods, attempted today, to create the orb from caramelized sugar have been less than 100% successful.

      Caramel blob awaiting formation. Chef Curtis kept this pliable by leaving it in a low oven throughout the day

      Chef Grant’s initial idea to use a metal bubble ring and heat gun (normally used for stripping paint) to form the bubbles does not work as hoped. Attempts to fashion them by hand also come up short.
      Says Grant, “At Trio we tried a hair-dryer. When Martin told me about these heat guns which get up to 900 degrees F, I thought we had it for sure. If it was easy everyone would do it I guess.” Eventually, Alinea partner Nick Kokonas garners the task’s best result by positioning a small, warm blob of sugar onto the end of a drinking straw and blowing into the other end. The results are promising. Curtis suggests using a sugar pump to inflate the orbs. That adjustment will be attempted on another day.
      “We intentionally position whimsical bite in the amuse slot, it tends to break the ice and make people laugh. It is a deliberate attempt to craft the experience by positioning the courses in a very pre-meditated order. A great deal of thought goes into the order of the courses, a misalignment may really take away from the meal as a whole.” For PB&J, the grapes are peeled while still on the vine and then dipped into unsweetened peanut butter. They are allowed to set–up, and then they are wrapped with a thin sheet of bread and lightly toasted. When the peeled grapes warm, they become so soft they mimic jelly. The composition is strangely unfamiliar in appearance but instantly reminiscent on the palate. PB&J is, according to Grant, virtually ready for service. There are a couple of aesthetic elements, which need minor tweaks but the Chef feels very good about today’s prototype.

      Chef John peels grapes while still on their stems

      Peeled grapes on their stems with peanut butter coating

      Chef Grant studies the completed PB&J in the Crucial Detail designed piece

      PB&J
      Often, creative impulses come by way of Alinea’s special purveyors. “Terra Spice’s support over the past couple of years has been unprecedented, and it has accelerated with the start of the food lab,” says Grant. “It is great to have relationships with people that think like we do, it can make the creative process so much easier. Often Phil, our contact at Terra, would come into the kitchen at Trio and encourage us to try and stump him on obscure ingredients. We always lost, but not from lack of trying. He even brought in two live chufa plants into the kitchen one day.” The relationship has developed and Terra team has really made an effort to not only search out products that the chefs ask for but also keep an eye out for new ingredients and innovations. In August, Phil brought by some samples of products that he thought the Alinea team might be interested in trying.

      Phil of Terra Spice showing the team some samples

      Coconut powder and other samples
      Grant recalls “the most surprising item to me was the dried coconut powder. When I put a spoonful in my mouth I could not believe the intense flavor and instant creamy texture, it was awesome.” That was the inspiration for what is now Instant Tropical Pudding. The guest is presented with a glass filled with dried ingredients. A member of the service team pours a measured amount of coconut water into the glass and instructs the guest to stir the pudding until a creamy consistency is formed.

      The rum-spiked coconut water being added to the powders
      At the end of the day, the Chefs assess their overall effort as having gone “fairly well.” It’s a mixed bag of results. Clearly, the fact that things have not gone perfectly on Day 1 has not dampened anyone’s spirits. The team has purposely attempted dishes of varying degrees of difficultly in order to maximize their productivity. Says Grant, “Making a bubble of caramel filled with powder…I have devoted the better part of fifteen years to this craft, I have trained with the best chefs alive. I have a good grasp of known technique. The lab's purpose is to create technique based on our vision. Sometimes we will succeed, and sometimes we will fail, but trying is what make us who we are." The team's measured evaluations of their day’s work reflect that philosophy.
      According to Chef Grant, “The purpose of the lab is to create the un-creatable. I know the level at which we can cook. I know the level of technique we already possess. What I am interested in is what we don't know...making a daydream reality.” With little more than 100 days on the calendar between now and Alinea’s opening, the Chef and his team will have their work cut out for them.
      =R=
      A special thanks to eGullet member yellow truffle, who contributed greatly to this piece
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