Sous Vide Duck Breast – Cherry, Cherry Tasty.

I’ve been doing a bit of cooking with amarena cherries of late. A special offer in the supermarket sent me over the edge of reason and I bought more jars than I will need this side of a catastrophic meteor strike. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and I needed to find some additional recipes for these delicious biter-sweet balls of shininess. A small amount of thinking brought the thought of Sous Vide Duck Breast with amarena cherry Sauce. A conversation amongst friends led to the idea of cooking the skin separately and a delicious dish was born. 

Winter is a wonderful time in Ireland. We get to choose from a wonderful range of winter vegetables. I decided to put a childhood ghost to rest and cook some turnip. As a young schoolboy about town, I was not a big fan of turnip. The earthy taste should work well with the duck and I thought that the cherries would balance the flavours too. (I believe that my numerous jars of cherries will balance the flavour in almost anything at this stage). As I was getting the sous vide out anyway, I decided to sous vide the turnips too.

One of my many jars of cherries hot put to use in this recipe.

To prepare this lovely dish, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 4 duck breasts
  • 1 small jar of amarena cherries in syrup
  • 1 bottle of good red wine (a glass for the sauce, the balance for drinking with the meal)
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • A turnip
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • A little olive oil

Bonus recipe: I also puréed a celeriac to go with this dish. It worked really well too. Peel chop and steam the celeriac until soft. Place it and a large knob of butter in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve warm. 

Using a sharp knife and working gently, remove the skin from the duck breasts. This is not difficult.

If the knife is sharp, you will only need to gently slice the membrane to remove the skin.

Cut the duck skins into strips. Place them on greaseproof paper, sitting on a baking tray.

This adds a lovely crunch and saltiness. Perfect foil for the cherries.

Season well and place another sheet on top. Place a second baking tray on top and roast in the oven at 200ºC for half an hour. They will be flat, crispy and very tasty. Let me be straight about it. I bought loads of cherries. I need anything I can get to work with them. The crispy skin helps a lot. Peel the turnip and cut it into cubes.

There is nothing delicate about cutting up a turnip.

Vacuum seal the cubes of turnip. I added a kitchen knife to one of the bags, to ensure it stayed under water during the cooking.

Note the pre cooked colour of the turnip. It looks pretty dull indeed.

An hour in the sous vide at 85ºC got the turnip par-cooked. It also changed the colour beautifully.

The colour is amazing. The humble turnip is the peacock of winter veg.

Season the duck breasts and add a sprig of thyme and a knob of butter before vacuum sealing them. Cook at 55ºC for 2 hours.

The thyme adds a lovely additional dimension to the flavour of the duck.

Toss the turnip in a little oil and bake in the oven at 200ºC for about 30 minutes. While this is going on, make the amarena cherrie sauce. This is the easiest sauce to make. Add a small jar of cherries to a saucepan. Add a glass of good red wine and bring to the boil. Heat until the sauce has reduced to a nice thickness.

A simple sauce allows time for an artistic photograph.

When the duck is cooked, take it out of its bags and pat dry. Add a knob of butter and a little oil to a hot pan. Quickly brown the duck breasts on both sides.

They look pretty tasty at this stage of proceedings.

Slice the duck and serve with the turnips and cherry sauce.

Sous vided meat doesn’t need any time to rest. Don’t hang about.

Serve plenty of the sauce. This will reduce your stocks of cherries and please your diners. It really is delicious. If you pushed the winter vegetable boat out like I did, serve the celeriac purée too.

This is a triumph both of cherry use and of cookery.

There are a few lessons to be learned from this recipe. Firstly, the crispy duck skin is delicious (It didn’t even make it to the last photo). Second, duck breast is beautiful cooked this way. Thirdly, turnips are delicious cooked sous vide. Lastly, don’t go mad when buying amarena cherries. They are tasty, but….


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  • Beautiful dish. Those turnips almost make me want to splash out on a sous vide kit. I am valiantly restraining the urge to make cherry jokes. See, I did it.

  • That duck looks absolutely perfect. And don’t get me started on the crispy skin! Sadly, there was no sous vide machine under the tree this year…

  • What a great recipe, can’t wait to try it! Your way of cooking turnip (swede?) as well as the duck skin is a definite must try. I assume that you bought your cherries from Lidl as that’s the only place I have ever seen them and they are quite wonderful in both sweet and savoury dishes.

  • I know you’re a meat and veg man, and magnificently so, but do consider something dessert-y to take care of the cherry glut. My own personal vote would be for cherry beignets… so, SO delicious. Very nearly as tasty as this duck!

  • Such a great looking plate of foods. Beautifully balanced. 🙂

  • Love duck for lots of reasons and with cherries and a nice pinot noir, ooo ah! The big bonus for me is all the gorgeous duck drippings to keep for delicious roast potatoes. Your turnip looks like an Aussie Swede, our turnips are white fleshed, smaller with a very distinct purple bloom

  • I have yet to lay my turnip ghosts to rest. What a beautiful dish and I am sure the skin was excellent. I have a bit of a thing for crispy fowl skin. 🙂

  • We love sous-vide duck and yours looks great. It may be a hassle, but if you can try to catch the fat rendered from the duck skin and use it (for example for browning the duck after cooking sous-vide). I’ve never done turnip/swede sous-vide and it looks like I need to rectify that — the color is amazing! I was very glad the amarena cherries were on sale here, too, as I usually buy them in Italy for a lot more (and even more than that if have to buy them at a specialty store in Amsterdam). They are killer in desserts like Black Forest Cake. Perhaps the wife can bake one (recipe is on my blog) for you? I read most blogs on the train, but I now make a point of reading yours on a big screen, because your new layout brings out your stellar photography so much better that way.

      • Why the need for experimentation? Was it under- or overcooked? You are making me curious about the humorous tale. I’ve actually never gone back and looked if the previous post is still about “Armenian” cherries. Best wishes back to you both 🙂

          • Sounds good. This sounds like what sometimes is called “confit” in the UK.
            Longer makes more sense to me than hotter. I’ll try it, too.

  • This looks wonderful! In the town where I am stuck, there are no duck breasts available, but when I go shopping out of town,I will look for Armenian cherries as well.

  • That whole plate looks absolutely luscious! Food porn at its best! 🙂

    Raw turnip is a favorite snack of mine; something about the combination of sweet, spicy earthiness that I find most enjoyable, especially with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkle of good chili powder.

  • But of course – love the duck panfried without skin, love the cherry sauce: always such a natural with the bird, love the turnip and celeriac steamed separately stovetop . . . . beautiful dish in the way I would make and eat it * huge smile* as if you did not know!!

  • That looks like beautiful pink duck!

      • What a nice present! I’ve been using Madagascan Voatsiperifery, which is quite sensational.

  • Hi Conor! You make me want to seek out some duck, Conor. I’ve never had it. This is a beautiful dish!

      • I believe I know just to place to get some. My husband David has influenced my judgement. I think he had a bad experience once…

          • I know it will!! Thanks for sharing. I’m gonna save this recipe when I have time I’m gonna make this!!

  • This brought me right back to the first time I had duck. It was in Scotland years ago served with a dark cherry sauce. It really is a great pairing. I’ll have to see about trying turnip with duck as well.

  • Wonderful! I’m particularly impressed by the turnip/swede/here, rutabaga. I thought it was butternut squash or something like in the first pic!

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