Tender, succulent duck breasts get a quick sear after their hot bath, and slathered in a gorgeous sauce. Sous Vide Duck Breasts with Quick Orange Chocolate Sauce, served with a Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Mash is sure to “wow” even the most discerning palate! A special meal for two that is easily scaled up for more!
Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.
~~ M.F.K. Fisher
I have cooked duck – a few times. You may remember my Za’atar and Pomegranate Molasses Roasted Duck recipe I posted for Christmas 2015? Well, maybe that’s stretching the limit of the average blog reader’s memory? The succulent flavor had me wanting to do duck again, but I really wanted to do breasts only.
I finally got my hands on duck breasts at our local Latino market (Ruben’s). Never one to post a recipe until it’s perfected, I played with the sauce first on less expensive
but definitely not cheap quail medallions. The sauce is Mexican-ish (is that a word?), with its citrus, chocolate, cumin flavors. No roux or thickening agent required. 😀 Try this delicious Quick Orange Chocolate Sauce on any poultry or even pork!
Feature Ingredient: Sous Vide Duck Breasts
Duck breasts come in many sizes, and may be domestic and commercially produced, or they may be wild and taken in a hunt. My very first experience with duck was with wild duck that a friend “donated” to me because she knew I would know what to do with it.
The ducks were quite small, and had been plucked and cleaned. They were bony and difficult to prepare and eat due to their small size. The commercial ducks I find are MUCH easier to work with, and breasts are a breeze!
When I ordered my duck breasts, I had a choice of small, medium, and large. The small – at 6 to 8 ounces each – are a perfect size. You lose a little to fat, but not much. I aim for 4-6 ounces of protein, so they worked out well.
Is Duck Breast “Healthy?”
While duck breast is not as lean as chicken breast, it can certainly be a healthy addition to your diet. It is high in protein, and key vitamins (B-5 and B-12) and minerals (selenium and zinc). Choice of cooking method and healthy sides make it an excellent option for a special occasion romantic meal with your loved one or scale it up for an elegant holiday dinner!
Why Sous Vide the Duck?
I chose to sous vide (sounds fancy and intimidating, but it’s really simple). AND. FOOL PROOF. Sous vide is the perfect method for duck.
I wanted medium rare, and set the temperature for 130°. I cooked it for about an hour and 45 minutes. While the duck hangs out in its hot tub, I prep the ingredients for the sauce (mis en place), and make the sides… I have included a simple Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Mash at the bottom of the post.
Note: We prefer duck medium rare. The beauty of sous vide cooking is the duck will not get over cooked. Once it hits the desired temperature, it quits cooking.
If you prefer it more cooked, adjust the temperature accordingly – 140° for medium, and 150° for well. Keep in mind, you will raise the internal temperature when you sear the duck breast on the stove!
I have to put in another plug for “staying in” for Valentine’s Day… Sous Vide Duck Breasts with Quick Orange Chocolate Sauce , Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Mash, fresh escarole with a citrus vinaigrette, and a bottle of Lawrence Dunham Vineyards 2012 Petite Sirah beats a crowded, noisy, expensive restaurant hands down and any day of the week. We’ve enjoyed a quiet meal at home Valentine’s Day for years (after our 4 sons left the nest!).
Making Sous Vide Duck Breasts with Quick Orange Chocolate Sauce
Start to finish, you need a little over 2 hours to complete the two dishes. I am including the recipe for the Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Mash in this post because it was fabulous with the duck and its sauce. At some point, though, the cauliflower will be a stand alone recipe (because it’s that good).
If you do not have a way to sous vide the duck, all is not lost! I like Gordon Ramsay’s method: How to Cook Perfect Duck Breast. Pick up the instructions after the seared duck is resting with a foil cover.
- Get the duck breasts prepped and in to sous vide.
- Prep any sides and the ingredients for the quick orange chocolate sauce.
- Sear the duck breasts, tent, and set aside.
- Make the quick orange chocolate sauce.
- Slice the sous vide and seared duck breasts, pour the sauce over top, and garnish with fresh cilantro and orange slice.
Tips and FAQ
- This sous vide duck recipe requires about 2 hours start to finish, but most of it is INACTIVE TIME. You have plenty of time to prep any sides while the duck is in its hot bath!
- We loved this easy Quick Orange Chocolate Sauce on quail medallions and pork tenderloin. Try it on your favorite meat or poultry. Keep in mind the duck fat adds flavor… Since it’s a “pan” sauce, you will want to add a bit of flavorful fat to the pan by searing your meat or poultry first. You can also try using a bit of butter to sauté the shallot and garlic.
Isn’t “sous vide” an advanced cooking method? I don’t consider it to be difficult at all! In fact, the hot bath allows the home cook to get to an exact temperature making it basically fool proof. It does require a specific appliance however.
Can I make the recipe if I don’t sous vide the duck breast? YES! As I mention above, you can cook the duck breasts entirely on the stove top. See How to Cook Perfect Duck Breast .
Duck breasts tend to be pretty expensive. What other options will go well with the Quick Orange Chocolate Sauce? A pork tenderloin is a much less expensive option, and can be treated the same way. 145° is the new recommended internal temperature for pork.
Have you had duck and loved it? Are you tempted to give cooking duck a try? I hope so… 🙂
Sous Vide Duck Breast with Blood Orange Chocolate Sauce
- 2 small duck breasts
- sea salt and pepper, (see notes)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup dry sherry
- 1 juicy blood orange, zest and juice (see notes)
- 1 ounce extra dark chocolate, (I use 86% dark)
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar, (see notes)
- several shakes of mole or chocolate bitters, optional
- sea salt and fresh ground pepper
- cilantro, for garnish
Sous Vide Duck Breast with Blood Orange Chocolate Sauce
- Pat the duck breasts dry, and season generously with salt and pepper. Place in an air and water tight bags (vacuum or zip bags). Make sure all the air is removed. Place in water bath at 130 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours. (see notes) While duck cooks, gather and prep ingredients for the sauce and any sides.
- Remove duck from the bags. Pat dry thoroughly.
- Place breasts skin side-down in heavy-bottomed 12-inch non-stick or cast iron skillet and set over high heat until sizzling, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and cook, moving and pressing breasts to ensure good contact between skin and pan until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Flip and cook second side until barely colored, about 30 seconds. Transfer to paper towel-lined plate, cover with foil, and allow to rest while making the sauce.
- Remove all but about a tablespoon of duck fat from the pan. Add the minced shallot and garlic, and saute about a minute over medium high heat. Add cumin, and saute another minute or so.
- Deglaze the pan with sherry, scraping any browned duck bits. Stir in the juice and zest, chocolate, agave nectar (if using), and bitters (if using). Season.
- To Serve: Slice duck into 1/2" thick slices. Top with the blood orange chocolate sauce, and garnish with cilantro.
I recently did a post on DIY Finishing Salts. The Citrus Sea Salt is perfect for seasoning the duck breast prior to cooking! Also, I finally found Aleppo pepper locally, and with it's hint of heat and citrus notes, it's perfect as well. Use a good quality sea salt and fresh ground pepper...
You want a generous 1/4 cup of orange juice. Blood oranges are not available year 'round, and not in every area when they're in season. Substitute any good, fresh orange (medium-sized) with lots of juice. Keep in mind the color of the sauce will not have the red tint.
The bitters are optional. They add depth and complexity, but you will have an excellent sauce without them!
If you use a chocolate that is less than 86% dark, you may want to taste the sauce before adding the agave nectar. 86% has no sweet taste (to my palate), so I feel the hint of sweetness is necessary. I also made the sauce with a 64% chocolate, and omitted the agave nectar entirely.
Don't forget to season the sauce!
If you don't have a way to sous vide the duck breast, follow Gordon Ramsay's How to Cook Perfect Duck Breast. Pick up the instructions after the duck is seared and set aside to rest.
I have a Tasty One Top (induction burner) that has an iPhone app and a temperature probe that work together to keep a precise water temperature. I do not have a sous vide appliance. There are options that range from a stand alone appliance to a probe/phone app, to a digital probe that can mount on the edge of your cookware and heats and maintains the water. I have a chef friend that did a huge number of rib eyes in a Yeti cooler with the digital probe/heater inserted. Cool!
Serious Eats is a "go to" resource for me. You can actually leave the duck in its bath for up to 4 hours. See Sous Vide 101: Duck Breast Recipe.
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal.com): 389 calories; 36 g protein; 24 g carbohydrates; 14 g fat. Macros based on 2 - 6 ounce duck breasts.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 389 Total Fat: 14g Carbohydrates: 24g Protein: 36g
- 1 bulb garlic
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- olive oil, to drizzle
- 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoons butter
- broth as needed
- sea salt/pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 (375 convection roast).
- Remove any loose papery skins from the garlic bulb. Using a very sharp knife, cut off the top 1/4-1/2" of the garlic bulb - exposing the garlic cloves.
- Place cauliflower florets and garlic bulb (exposed cloves up) on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil.
- Place in preheated oven. Cook until tender with some nice caramelization (about 20-30 minutes).
- Squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins (they should be quite soft). Add to the bowl of a large food processor. Add the yogurt and butter. Pulse until smooth, adding broth and seasoning as necessary.
- Scoop Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Mash into an ovenproof dish, and pop back into the oven to stay warm until ready to serve. Garnish with fresh herbs as desired.
I love colorful food, and used a gorgeous head of purple cauliflower for photo day. I had originally planned orange, but the purple looked more fresh. The purple probably wasn't the best choice as it matched the duck and sauce!
Macronutrients (approximation from MyFitnessPal.com): 210 calories; 12 g protein; 26 g carbohydrates; 11 g fat. Based on 2 very generous servings.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 210 Total Fat: 11g Carbohydrates: 26g Protein: 12g