My wife and I recently had the good fortune of welcoming our third child into the family. This small miracle took place on august 24th when my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. All went well and we brought our little baby girl home the day after, on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. She was avidly greeted by her two older siblings whom were happy too meet their new baby sister. The youngling was a little startled during this first meeting as can be seen on the above picture.
That very evening I made this meal for the love of my life, Snædís. One of her favourite foods is duck and therefore was this an obvious choice. And she certainly deserved it. I don't think we men don't give our women appropriate credit for their efforts during pregnancy and labour, maybe because we are so relieved that we are not in their shoes. A colleague of mine, a gynaecologist, said jokingly that if men were to give birth, they would all be put under general anaesthesia, and on the moment of their waking deemed fit for receiving the highest medal the state would offer!
Well, lets get on the subject - food! This is the second time that I attempt to cook something "sous-vide". Cooking this way means that you seal the food in an air and water resistant bag and then cook the food in the bag at a stable and low temperature. The pros about this type of cooking is that it is supposed to retain more flavor and cook more evenly - getting the "perfect" core temperature throughout the whole piece of meat. This all sounds like a lot of hassle - but actually it isn't that at all - and the result is absolutely stunning, and most important, tastes wonderful.
Sous-Vide Duck Breasts with Fried Cherries and Pomme Fondant Potatoes
For those who don't own a vacuum sealer, there are other means of sealing in the meat, for example using water pressure, pressing the air out, and sucking it out with a straw. Youtube offers many handy ways to grapple with this.
I washed the duck breasts and then padded them dry with a cloth.
I placed two pieces of breast per bag and seasoned with pepper, no salt this time in order not to draw too much water from the breast and finally a reasonable amount of thyme and rosemary.
I placed the bags in preheated water - temperature: 62 degrees Celsius. I made sure to monitor the thermometer frequently, every five minutes or so, in order not to overheat the water. At one point the temperature rose - so I just removed some warm water and replaced it with cold tap water. Using this method it is very hard to overcook the meat. It will never surpass the temperature of the cooking water - so leaving the duck breast for an extra hour will bear no consequence on the doneness of the meat - it will be perfect!
While the duck breast was in the oven I took care of the side dish. On this occasion I made some Pommes Fondant - which is a delicious potato dish cooked in butter and broth. I fetched some new potatoes from my garden - washed them thoroughly and peeled. They are cut in a certain way to create a bottom that is rather a flat surface. First I fried them in butter and flavored with lemon thyme from the garden.
My son, Villi, has been very helpful in the kitchen these past few weeks. Always ready to lend a hand. Now he has even begun to cut vegetable for the salad and is a very efficient "go getter". He proudly placed the potatoes in the ovenproof dish. I then poured warm homemade chicken stock 2/3 of the height of the potatoes. Placed in a 180 degrees warm preheated oven for just under and hour.
The cherries were cooked accordingly; first but a tablespoon of butter in a small pot and then place the cherries, stem facing upwards. Fry on low temperature for a few minutes. Then add some chicken stock to nearly cover the berries. Cook further, for a few minutes and remove them just before the lose their form, and put to the side. I then added more chicken stock and all the liquid from the bags in which the duck had been cooked. I then added two tablespoons of cherry jam, 2 dl of thick cream, seasoned with salt and pepper. Brought to a simmer and left so until the meal is ready to serve.
After just over an hour I removed the duck breast from the pot. As I mentioned I poured all the liquid in the sauce and placed the duck breast on a plate where they are patted dry with a cloth.
I also removed most of the herbs but added more salt before frying the duck gently on the outside.
More butter was added to the pan. And then the duck was fried for a 3-4 minutes on medium heat until the skin was beautifully crispy - and then just for a moment on the flesh side.
You don't want to overcook the duck - they are already perfect on the inside.
If you don't salivate over the above photograph - then I doubt you could call yourself a foodie!
With the food I drank some Castillo De Molina Reserva Pinot Noir from 2010. This is a wine from town of Molina in Chile. The winemaker Vina San Pedro has been making wines since 1865 and it is one of the larger manufacturers in the country. This is a lovely wine to serve with duck. Has a bright ruby color, scents of berries and a touch of cherries on the palate along with some mild oak tones.