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.
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.
Cut the duck skins into strips. Place them on greaseproof paper, sitting on a baking tray.
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.
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.
An hour in the sous vide at 85ºC got the turnip par-cooked. It also changed the colour beautifully.
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.
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.
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.
Slice the duck and serve with the turnips and cherry sauce.
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.
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….