Abby Allen · Dec 1, 2020 · 5 min read
For the majority of my adult years, preparing duck was always something that intimidated me - and I don't shy away from much in the food world. I think, perhaps, I had just never had "good" duck. In most cases when ordering out, it always arrived undercooked or overcooked - and no one wants either of those things; therefore, I became turned off by it.
I remained negative towards duck until I discovered two preparation successes: confit duck and sous vide duck - both yielded perfectly prepared duck that, quite frankly, blew my mind. The method I opted for for this recipe: the sous vide route. It's a full-proof, sure-fire cooking method that has the ability to cook most any kind of meat to an idyllic state, especially duck. If you are familiar with sous vide cooking, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Sous Vide (which translates to "under vacuum" in French) is a cooking method which uses precise temperature control to cook something to an exact temperature. In essence, you vacuum seal your food of choice in a bag and cook it in a water bath to a precise temperature, leaving your food cooked to your expected liking every single time.
Sourcing duck isn't as easy as it is to source many other meats, like pork, chicken and beef. However, leave it to Rollin' Oats Natural Food Market to make shopping for this recipe a cinch, because they have every ingredient for this recipe, including the duck! At the St. Pete location, just to the left of the dairy/eggs and at the beginning of the freezer section, you'll find duck breast, along with other interesting meats! It was a fabulous discovery, as I have a hard time finding duck on a regular basis in St. Pete.
The Root Vegetable Gratin is solid accompaniment to the duck, and, also any easy dish to throw together with the holidays in a few weeks! It's full of cheese and comfort and who doesn't want that this time of year? Feel free to use any mixture of root vegetables that are available to you for this dish!
Wine Pairing From Ken Smith:
Decoy 2018 Pinot Noir, California
"A lively wine, graced with raspberry and black cherry components, that's also accompanied by balanced acidity. It's medium body marries beautifully with this dish. Just look for the mallard on the label."
How to Make Duck Breast with Orange Sauce
Sous Vide Duck Breast with Orange-Honey Pan Sauce and Root Vegetable Gratin
Duck & Orange Pan Sauce
- 1-2 Duck Breasts One 8 ounce duck breast is enough for my husband and I to share, especially with a side dish.
- 2 Tbsp butter Preferably grass-fed, such as Vital Farms
- 1 Naval Orange You will need zest and juice.
- 1/4 Cup White Wine Use a wine that you would drink! I recommend a Chardonnay or a Sauvignon Blanc.
- 1 Tbsp Honey Local, raw and organic is preferred
- 1 Tsp Red Wine Vinegar
Root Vegetable Gratin
- 6 Root Vegetables Use any combination of potatoes, parsnip, beets, etc., as you like! Peeled and sliced thin (about 4-5mm).
- 1 Cup heavy cream
- 1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Grated Fontina Cheese Or other cheese that melts well, like cheddar or gruyere.
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 1 Tbsp Salt Plus more, as needed.
- 1/2 Bunch Fresh Thyme
Sous Vide Duck & Orange Pan Sauce
- Preheat your sous vide water bath to 135F.
- Season liberally with salt. Place duck into bag and vacuum seal, or, into zip lock bag to use the water immersion method to seal the bag.
- When the water is heated, drop your sealed duck breast into the water and cook for two hours. While the duck breast cooks, prepare the gratin.
- When the timer goes off after two hours, remove the sealed duck breast from the water bath, discard bag and any accumulated liquid.
- Place duck on a cutting board skin side up, and evenly score the skin (be careful to only cut through the skin). Salt the scored side well. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add 2 Tbsp butter. After the pan is hot and butter is melted, add the duck to the pan scored skin side down and cook until a golden, crisp skin forms, 2-3 minutes. Salt the other side of the duck
- Flip duck breast and cook on the other side for 1 minute. Remove from pan, turn off heat and allow to rest while we make the orange sauce.
- To the pan that we cooked the duck in, add white wine to deglaze for 2 minutes (your pan will still likely be quite hot, but if it isn't, go ahead and place the pan over low heat during this process). Then, add in juice from orange halves (do not discard yet!), honey, red wine vinegar and 1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste. Allow sauce to gently mingle and thicken for 2-3 minutes until it coats the back of a spoon. Carefully add to a small bowl and set aside until ready to serve.
- Slice duck breast(s) against the grain. Add slices to plates, drizzle with pan sauce and add zest from used orange halves on top.
Alternative Duck Cooking Instructions
- Dry duck breast well, place on a cutting board skin side-up, and evenly score the skin (be careful to only cut through the skin).
- Season duck liberally with salt and pepper. Place duck breast skin side in a dry and cold pan and heat the pan to medium. This is so the duck fat renders slowly and evenly. Cook skin side down for approximately 12-14 minutes. Carefully flip the duck and cook for another 2 or so minutes. Allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Root Vegetable Gratin
- Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly grease a cast iron skillet or baking dish with butter (just until coated - we will be using the rest later!). Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream to skillet/baking dish and evenly disperse. Add all sliced root vegetables of choice to a large bowl and add remaining heavy cream, 1 tbsp salt and 1/2 of grated parmesan. Mix well and then arranged coated vegetables slices in a pan to your liking. Personally, I like the stacked domino look! Top with remaining grated parmesan, thyme sprigs and cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes.
- Remove from oven, discard foil and even top with grated Fontina cheese. Place back into the oven to cook for an additional 20 minutes. Turn the oven to broil, broil gratin for 1-2 minutes, remove from oven and serve along side duck.