I’ve kinda always been baffled by how much chicken breast Swedes eat. Chicken is great and all, I mean… except for the breast. It is always, ALWAYS overcooked which makes it papery dry, flavorless and completely uninteresting. It can be great, but that really demands a pretty good chef I feel.
So wasn’t this supposed to be about duck? Well yes. Since I’ve started eating duck more frequently I’ve been equally baffled, but the other way around. Basically, no one is eating duck, but compared to the bland chicken, the duck breast is amazing! How to describe it…? It has a certain gamey (duckey) flavor that I guess some people do not like. It’s very meaty as bird meats go and the breast is very tender and juicy. Kind of a mix of dear and chicken maybe, with more fat (from the skin).
Anyway, more people should eat duck is what I’m trying to say. And stop eating so much chicken breast, it really is settling for mediocrity.
This recipe uses a mix of pan frying and sous vide cooking. The pan-frying gives wonderfully crispy skin and the sous vide ensures just perfect meat. Sous vide is a great technique when you’re cooking meat and you really want it to come out a certain way (and really… when don’t you want that?). A sous vide machine is basically a water bath with a thermostat and a timer. It allows you to immerse the meat (sealed in a vacuum bag) in water at an exact temperature for an extended time. So instead of cooking the meat at a high temperature (e.g. against the bottom of a frying pan) and trying to time it so that the core of the meat is juuuuust right, with sous vide, you cook the meat at the temperature at which you prefer the meat to be eaten at, but for a long time. Thus the meat comes out perfectly throughout the entire piece, instead of being overcooked at the surface and perfect in the center.
It’s pretty easy to achieve kinda almost the same great result with only pan-frying, keeping tabs on the core meat temperature with a cooking thermometer.
The duck and orange sauce is a classic coupling and fit really well together. I haven’t found a side that I fell really completes the dish though. This time I went for roasted potatoes, orange braised fennel and fried kale. I really liked the fennel and kale but kinda botched the potatoes, which put me of them as a concept a bit. If you have a favorite side dish to go with duck, please let me know, I’m on the hunt for a favorite 🙂