Saturday, March 17, 2018

Sous Vide Duck Breast with Port and Plum Sauce

I was an early adopted of sous-vide cooking, which permits the cook to heat foods to a precise temperature  and keep them there (using a water bath and a vacuum sealed cooking pouch) until it's convenient to remove them. I particularly use it for meats that are very sensitive to temperature, such as ostrich (which I like at 132 degrees), turkey breast (155 degrees) and duck breasts (138 or 145, depending).

Recently we had a friend and dedicated follower of my blog, whom I will call Doctor Who, to dinner, and the centerpiece of a fairly extensive meal was duck breast with port and plum sauce, based on a recipe from Gordon Hamersley's excellent Bistro Cooking at Home, one of my go-to cookbooks, that I adapted for sous vide cooking.

I have to admit that it came out perfectly.
Sous vide duck breast with sauteed fingerling potatoes

Since J cannot eat duck meat cooked to rare (say 138 degrees), I cooked one breast at that temperature and the other at 145 degrees, which turned out to be fine for her. First, I marinated the meat for an hour in a port, shallot, soy sauce and ginger marinade, then, saving the marinade, sealed the breasts into vacuum (hence sous vide) bags. I cooked the breasts at 138 for two hours and then cooked one of them for another 40 minutes at 145. I chilled them and later sauteed them slowly to sear them and crisp up the skin. Plums were sauteed and combined with more port, chicken stock and with the reserved marinade and liquid from the sealed bags, and reduced. A rich combination of sweet and savory.
Port and plum sauce
As this was a bistro meal, we started with a very light version of céleri rémoulade that I made with Greek yogurt instead of mayonnaise or crème fraîche, plus the obligatory mustard, served side by side with a traditional grated carrot salad (carottes rapées).
Céleri rémoulade and grated carrot salad
After the main, as a palate cleanser, I served a simple salad of tossed pea shoots and radish sprouts that I got at the wonderful Sunday green market on Columbus Avenue between 77th and 81st Streets, lightly dressed with lemon and Sicilian olive oil.
Pea shoot and radish sprout salad
For dessert I made my fresh blueberry and raspberry pie from Food52 Genius Recipes but without the crust, i.e. fresh and cooked berries with a dollop of crème fraîche.
Fresh and cooked berries with crème fraîche
In honor of Doctor Who, who is a museum curator of Asian art, the salads and dessert were served on plates made by Japanese ceramic artists, which I think went well with French bistro cooking.

A fun meal, made nearly foolproof by use of sous vide cooking. As sous vide devices have become smarter and easier to use, and can now be used with ordinary (large) pots or storage vessels, I encourage you to take the plunge (along with your food).

Bobby Jay

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