Sous Vide Duck tips

In the Sous Vide Recipes Forum
I want to try cooking a roast duck sous vide style.
I'll be cutting it up into portions due to the limitations of my sous vide equipment.
I am looking for suggestions as to how to approach this.
Should I brine beforehand?
Due to the high fat content do I need to steam it first?
Does the breast cook at a different temp. than the legs and if so at what temp. and for how long?

Any help will be much appreaciated.


12 Replies So Far

For the breasts, try taking the fat off, rendering it down, and then cooking the meat in the rendered fat (with some aromats) - works really well.
Hi Matthew,

Thanks for the suggestion. How long and at what temp. do you recommend cooking the breast?
We normally cook our sous vide duck breasts at 131F / 55C for 2 to 4 hours.
Hi Jason,

Would you recommend the same timing and heat for the duck legs?
I'm really not sure about the legs. I've only really done them confited, and that's at a lot higher heat. I assume they'd be fine at the lower temperature but I'm really not sure. Sorry!
Thank you for your help.
I believe you should to cook fattier portions of any animal longer and hotter.

Check out this link:

The only issue is that the weight of the breast and the leg are very different in that link. I know there is a USDA doc somewhere that shows the difference in cooking time based on fat percentage.
Found that USDA document. Obviously this is for chicken/turkey (and in Fahrenheit), but each table is based on fat percentage of the chicken. You can see how the cooking time goes up as the fat percentage increases.
I think Keller is actually doing a confit preparation there since he's cooking it at 82C / 179.6F, and he's just warming the breast itself (only 25 minutes).
Got it. The difference did seem a bit drastic.
There are some interesting discrepancies on cooking times. I CAN tell you the food technology folks at the French Culinary Institute, who know their stuff told me that SV duck breast (which they actually call low temperature cooking unless it's in a chamber vac for total vacuum) should not be cooked for more than one hour, as the muscle fibers start to change that quickly. I've found the best temperature to be 134 degrees, because the fat starts to render at just that point, but won't melt off. You really don't need heavy duty spicing; it's duck after all. Salt and pepper, a sprig of thyme and a dash of liquid smoke, then in the water for one hour. The grilling part is definitely for outside only though, since the one minute per side on a hot grille will cause an ENORMOUS flare up. Which is fun for pyromaniacs (AKA men and boys) of all ages. Take it off while wearing large silicone mitts and carve into 1/2" slices. It's perfect every time.
While I love the way duck breast comes out of sous vide cooking perfectly rare the whole way through, I'm still struggling with getting the skin crispy and golden

Searing after cooking at med-high seems to end up over-cooking some of the internal meat by the time the skin is crispy... OR too high heat ends up with charred black skin, not crispy and beautiful.

I know that removing the skin works, but I think one of the great things about duck is that attached crispy layer.

still a work in progress...

anyone tried a blowtorch?

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