Yesterday, in the Anova kitchen, the opportunity arose to do a ducks-periment for a sous vide duck breast recipe; we tested minor textural variations on popular cooking times and temperatures for boneless duck breasts. I also had the opportunity to test out a duck breast recipe that I have been dreaming about for some time–Spiced Honey Sous Vide Duck Breast over Seasonal Spinach Salad! With sweet, smoky and spicy notes, I personally like to think of it as the “crazy-sexy-cool” of the duck breast world. It also happens to be perfect for the holidays, when we are trying to balance healthy eating with seasonal indulgence!
First, a few delicious tidbits about our fine feathered friend. This waterfowl tends to be something folks indulge in only when going to restaurants, but Anova makes it so easy to do at home. Duck is indeed very rich in flavor–it may be one of the few things in life that can never be said to “taste like chicken!” Duck is loaded with protein–in fact there’s 9.3 grams of protein per ounce, compared with 7.3g/oz in chicken breast and 5.6g/oz for beef tenderloin. It’s in between the chicken breast and beef when it comes to fat content–3g/oz without skin. It’s also a great source of niacin, phosphorus, riboflavin, iron, zinc, vitamin B-6 and thiamine.
There are those who express concern that it *is* higher in cholesterol than some other meats with 143mg/oz, but recent studies have shown that dietary cholesterol has less of an impact on blood cholesterol, a fact which has led to the reshaping of U.S. Dietary Guidelines in 2016! How great is that? The incredible, edible egg is back, with its ducky friends…
Anyhow, now that you have a background on the health benefits of eating duck, let’s get back to the deliciousness! We pre-seared four duck breasts using two different time & temperature settings. We put them in the bags and seasoned them with pepper, salt, cinnamon, smoked paprika, honey, and chipotle–full recipe available here!
Here are the results of our ultimate sous vide duck breast experiment:
55°C/131°F for 1 hour
This breast was definitely the chewiest, but still had a lot of good flavor, you cannot cut it with a fork, but it was definitely cooked all the way through
55°C/131°F for 3.5 hours
This breast was the softest and mushiest, with a texture most similar to liver, you can cut it with a fork.
57.2°C/135°F for 1 hour
This breast was tender and juicy, less chewy than the 55°C/131°F, you can cut it with a fork, and was my personal favorite texture for only an hour of cooking time.
57.2°C/135°F for 3.5 hours
This breast was very tender; I was the most similar to a medium rare texture out off all of them, and you could cut it with a fork.
Since we had duck breast all ready to go, I decided to whip up a salad from it and share it with the team. I used the 135º duck breast over seasonal spinach salad makes the most of currently-in-season produce while featuring those warm holiday spices of cinnamon and chili. It also tastes completely indulgent while delivering so many of your daily nutritional needs, and even helping to regulate blood sugar! This combination is oh-so-good-for-you and also fits within gluten-free, dairy-free, and Paleo guidelines. Once you've got your duck breast in the water bath (my favorite preparation for this salad here
) you can start prepping the rest of the salad using the recipe below.
Spinach Salad with Spiced Apple Vinaigrette
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes at 400ºF / 180ºC (oven)
8 - 10 oz. baby spinach
1 delicata squash, sliced into ¼” thick circles with seeds removed (make sure your squash has skin that can be pierced with your fingernail - the skin of the delicata is edible, unless it’s too thick!)
1/2 cup spiced pecans or walnuts
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1 large pomegranate)
1 medium apple, cut into bite-size pieces
¼ c shaved red onion
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper
Heat oven to 400ºF. Place the squash on a baking tray (PRO TIP: I love using parchment paper to line all of my baking trays to make cleanup easier!) and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat and season with salt & pepper. Once it is fully seasoned, arrange in a single layer on the tray and bake in your preheated oven for 20 minutes, until the flesh is tender.
Arrange circles of squash on your serving plate. Top with spinach, sprinkle with nuts, apple pieces, pomegranate seeds, and nuts. Top with meat of your choice (like Spiced Honey Sous Vide Duck Breast
!) and drizzle with Spiced Apple Dressing. Enjoy!
Spiced Apple Dressing
⅓ c apple cider vinegar
⅔ c oil (olive & avocado are my favorites here!)
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ tsp garam masala
Salt & Pepper to taste
In a small jar with a lid, combine all ingredients. Attach lid and shake until emulsified! Taste and adjust flavor with salt & pepper to taste.
I can’t wait to hear what you think! Please leave your feedback and any variations you decide to try in the comments! :-)