If you watch any food television at all, you've undoubtedly seen the "sous vide" (French for "under vacuum") technique many, many times. What was once a very unique procedure is now about as rare as a hung-over line cook.
Not so long ago, only a handful of pros using state-of-the-art sous vide set-ups, costing thousands of dollars, got to play this game. Today, there are many options for home sous vide kits, most costing hundreds of dollars, but what about the home cook who just wants to try this once and a while, and doesn’t want to invest that kind of money and space?How about a simple, almost foolproof, stovetop sous vide method that requires no special equipment? Too good to be true? Well, I'm happy to report it's so very true, and produced what Michele and I agreed was the best duck breast we've ever had.The principles behind this sous vide duck breast's succulence is quite simple. Put the meat in a watertight, vacuum-sealed bag, and place it in a water bath held at a temperature exactly equal to the ideal desired internal temperature. After a certain amount of time, the meat reaches that temperature and stays there.
That's it. Not only is there no real danger of overcooking the meat, but it cooks so gently, in a vacuum, that virtually no moisture is lost. The only real difference with our stovetop sous vide and the professional set-up, is the vacuum part.
We're going very low tech here; simply pressing or sucking the air from a ziplock bag. It's not a perfect vacuum, but as you'll see, it doesn’t have to be. As long as your package sinks below the surface, and no water gets in, you're good to go.After an hour in the 135 degree F. water, my duck breasts were picture perfect inside. I crisped-up the skin, drizzled over some sweet and sour peach sauce, and ate in stunned silence. I could not believe how amazing the texture was. I won't even waste time trying to find the adjectives, as most of the ones I need haven't been invented yet.
I've only done this with one other meat (a NY Strip steak, also very impressive) so I can’t give you any info on other recipes/times/temperatures just yet. I will, however, post the quick and easy peach sauce seen in this clip soon. Anyway, I really hope you give this spectacular sous vide duck a try. Enjoy!
2 large duck breasts, boneless, skin-on
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
View the complete recipe