This post is part of a larger post titled Foodbuzz 24x24: Culinary Tour Around the World - Sous Vide Style. In that post, I created a 3-course dinner showcasing the sous vide technique on a variety of cuisines. This duck confit salad was the "French" portion of that meal.
The problem with only having professional cookbooks at your disposal when you are exploring a new, relatively unused home cooking technique is that the recipes you encounter will inevitably be geared towards a restaurant kitchen.
I'm not sure WHAT I was thinking when I decided to propose making a complete meal using sous vide. Not only that, but a complete meal using recipes from the likes of Michelin starred chefs, like Thomas Keller and David Chang.
I should have known it would be challenging.
I tried picking the easiest recipe out of Thomas Keller's book, Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide, and still this recipe was by far the most complicated, step-intensive, and messy recipe.
Thomas Keller mentions how the sous vide method is invaluable in a commercial kitchen where a million things are going on at the same time and everything has to be cooked to perfection at a moment's notice. Not surprisingly, multiple elements of this salad are made using sous vide.
I will provide brief descriptions for each element below. For detailed instructionals, click through to the appropriate links.
First, you want to cure the duck legs with salt with a bunch of herbs for at least 6 hours.
Second, seal the rinsed and dried duck legs with duck fat and herbs. Cook sous vide for 8 hours at 180° F. Cool, dry, and pan sear the duck legs until the skin is browned and crisp. Serve skin side up.
Similarly, cook the potatoes sous vide in duck fat with an herb sachet filled with herbs.
Finally, to make the egg "tempura," bring a pot of water to boiling and cook a very fresh egg for 5 minutes. After carefully peeling the egg, cover it in flour, beaten eggs, and potato starch, and then deep fry for about 3 minutes.
Make salad dressing by reducing down a mixture of red wine vinegar with sugar and then mixing this concentrated syrup with duck fat. Pour over frisee.
Finally, bring ALL the components together. I veered a bit from the Thomas Keller recipe, which actually involves deboning the duck leg, pressing it down, and cutting out a nice 2x2 inch square for service. You can cut the fried egg open to allow the runny yolks to ooze all over the plate. Delicious dish that really worked well together. This was probably the guests' favorite dish.
As I mentioned before, this was the guests' favorite dish. I would happily make this dish again, although I must confess the fried hen egg, though delicious, was a PAIN to make. It was difficult to execute well. Furthermore, it made my tiny kitchen horribly messy. Need more counter space!
For regular meals, I'm happy to make this humbler version (just shred the duck meat withour searing and add the 5-minute egg without deep frying) which still tastes almost as good (and healthier!).
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