Duck is one of my favourite meats. It can be so tender and sometimes unfortunately a bit rubbery.
The ideal way to cook it and make sure you get the most tender result is to use the “sous-vide” technique. It means “vacuum” in French. It is actually a low temperature cooking in a bath of warm water. To protect the product you’re cooking, you put it in a plastic bag. In order to cook it thoroughly and for the sauce or juice to marinate the product well, the best way is to create a vacuum in that bag using a vacuum machine.
Both sous-vide and vacuum machines are sold everywhere in Australia and for a surprisingly low price compared to France. It is a great investment for meat eaters as it will revolutionise the way you eat your steak. Meat becomes so tender and tasty with or without a marinade that once you’ve tasted it, you cannot live without it.
Most fine dining restaurants prepare their meat in a sous-vide system. When you buy your own, you get to have the same amazing tenderness without the price tag after the initial investment of course.
Wendell and I have a passion for this technique and have created many recipes. I will try to share them with you each time we make one of them. One of the most spectacular dishs is probably this Sous-vide duck marinated in Honey and Ginger. I had to share it with you despite the horrible night photos.
It requires an Asian style marinade which can be customised or simplified according to what you have in your fridge and pantry.
Duck is quite hard to find in Australia. You need to go to a good butcher shop and when they have a stock of nice duck breasts, buy them and freeze them. With the sous-vide technique, they will taste as good as fresh ones.
We bought these ones at Vic’s Meat (see my article here) and froze them. To thaw them, I simply fill up 1/4 of the kitchen sink with hot tap water and let them be. I change the water at least once with warm water again.
When the meat has thawed, with a very sharp knife, cut the skin making a criss-cross pattern. Be careful not to cut the meat. It will help the marinade to go everywhere and it will make the frying stage easier and more efficient.
When you put the marinade in the bags, make sure that you don’t dirty the top of the bag where the machine will melt the plastic to make a seal. This would make the sealing nearly impossible.
Same principle here, when placing the breasts in the bag, make sure you don’t dirty the top of the bag.
Proceed as indicated on your sous-vide / vacuum machine’s manual.
In this marinade you can use the same ingredients as mine but you can skip or swap a few. It will still be delicious. Make sure you have a sweet touch (honey, cha siu sauce, maple syrup, sugar, plum sauce), a salty touch (salt, soy sauce), spices (Chinese 5 spice is the best but you can simply put ground coriander, clove, cinnamon and cumin) and fresh ingredients such as chopped ginger and garlic.
No need to marinate for hours or days in the fridge. The sous-vide cooking will do that for you.
To go fast, rinse the rectangular recipient in very hot tap water, put hot water in it and plunge the bags in it when the desired temperature has been reached: 54°C here. Cook it for an hour.
After an hour of low temperature cooking cut the bags open and put a mini dash of oil in a non stick pan. Place the duck breasts skin down on a medium heat. Let it melt and caramelise, making sure you’re not burning it. It should take only a few minutes.
Flip them on the other side and let them fry for 1 mins max.
Let me know if you liked this Sous-vide duck marinated in Honey and Ginger recipe :)
- 3 large duck breasts with skin on
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 big knob of ginger 5 cm
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbs light soy sauce
- 1 tbs honey
- 1 tbs Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
- 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice
- 1 tsp cha siu sauce (optional)
- mini dash of flavourless oil (peanut, canola, etc)
- Finely chop ginger and garlic.
- Mix all the marinade ingredients together.
- Make 2 bags with your vacuum packaging equipment if you have bags in a roll. Cut 10 cm longer than the length of the longest breast. Seal a side.
- Pour the marinade in each bag making sure you don't touch or dirty the top of the bag where it will be sealed.
- Insert 2 breasts in 1 bag and 1 breast in the remaining bag. (Same thing be careful not to touch the inside top of the bags).
- Make a vacuum using you machine as indicated on the manual.
- Rinse the container of the sous-vide machine in very hot tap water. Fill it with warm water to make sure it reaches 54°C quickly. Once the temperature has been reached, cook for an hour.
- Put a mini dash of oil in a non stick pan. Heat on medium.
- Pull the bags out and place them in the sink. Cut them open and using kitchen thongs, place the breasts in a plate.
- Place breasts in the pan skin down. Melt the skin fat and caramelising it without burning it. When it's nice and golden, turn them upside down and leave them for 1 min.