Thermocook Sous-Vide – Balsamic Duck Breast:
One of the biggest attractions for me of the Thermomix was having a kitchen utensil that was really multi-functional. I’ve never quite been able to justify spending over a thousand pounds though. So, I was (and still am) really excited to be given the opportunity to review and use the Thermocook Optimum. I’m still at that ‘experimental’ stage where most of the things I do need to be re-tested and fine tuned. I’ve made soups, I’ve used the Thermocook as a slow cooker and I’ve made a LOT of mashed potato. But, the most innovative thing I’ve done, using the Thermocook as a sous-vide is an idea I’ve stolen from the Thermomix forums. It is something that really does work exceptionally well and, I think, needs to be celebrated and shared.
I started off by testing the temperature control of my Thermocook. I wanted to see how capable it was of maintaining a steady temperature around 60c – the level at which many sous-vide recipes work best. I was pleasantly surprised. It really does seem to be able to hold an exact temperature for hours. Once I was sure that the machine was up to the job, I set out to experiment a bit using ziplock bags and water displacement to seal my food
So far I’ve tried venison shoulder steaks and duck breast. They are both the sort of thing I would normally pan fry, but which I struggle to get cooked through yet rare. They also both have a tendency to be a little tough. Of the two, the duck breast was a resounding success while the venison was good but not perfect. I allowed two and a half hours for each at 60c, but I suspect the venison would have benefited from a longer cooking period at a slightly lower temperature. If you are making this yourself in a Thermocook I suggest using the kneading shaft – you don’t want to accidentally pierce your sealed sous-vide bag. The size of the jug on the Thermocook means that you will probably not be able to sous-vide more than 4 medium size duck breasts at a time.
There is a wealth of information about cooking temperatures and times on the internet. I used this guide and adapted my recipe from this one. Nerves got the better of me, so I cooked the meat for a little longer and at a slightly higher temperature. One of the best things about sous-vide cooking though is that you can keep food at the ‘perfect’ level for a couple of hours. So a meat like duck breast which might get tough if you overcook it in the oven or a frying pan will be beautifully tender and pink even if the phone rings and you end up talking for an hour or so when you should be serving dinner.
- 2 Medium Duck Breasts
- 2 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 tablespoon Honey
- 1 handful Fresh thyme finely chopped
- Dry the duck breasts with paper towels. Score across the skin
- Season each well with salt and pepper on the skin side and with pepper and a little of the chopped thyme on the meat side
- Place each duck breast in a foodsafe ziplock bag and use a water bath to remove as much air as possible before sealing the bag.
- Fill the Thermocook to just below the max level with cold or warm water. Heat to 60C (this will take between 5 and 8 minutes). I checked the temperature with a jam thermometer and continued to check periodically throughout the cooking process.
- Put the duck breasts into the thermocook. Put the lid on the thermocook and allow to cook for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes
- Remove the duck breasts from the thermocook jug.
- Drain off any braising liquid and reserve
- Pat the duck breasts dry with kitchen paper.
- Heat a heavy frying pan or skillet over a medium high heat. There's no need to add any fat
- Cook the duck breasts for 5 minutes, skin side down, pressing gently down with a fish slice or wooden spoon.
- Once the skin is nicely crisp, turn the duck breasts and cook for a further minute
- Place the duck breasts under a foil tent to rest while you make the balsamic glaze
- Drain off any excess fat from the pan so you are left with just less than a tablespoon. Add the balsamic, braising juices, honey and thyme and reduce down until you have a nicely sticky balsamic sauce
- Slice the duck breast, drizzle a little of the sauce over and serve with simple vegetables or a watercress salad.
The recipe is ultra simple – and I shall be making it again. The duck breast is meltingly tender – and I think it would be great served cold, sliced into a salad.
Now I’m not an egg eater – but I’d love to know how the Thermocook fares at making a slow-cooked egg. Apparently, you just pop the eggs straight into the water bath/Thermocook jug and cook. Eat your heart out Heston!
The Thermocook is now available for just under £500. At less than half the price of the Thermomix but with all the functionality, that’s something of a bargain.
Disclosure: Froothie UK sent me the Optimum ThermoCook to use and review at home. I have not been paid for this post and was not required to give the ThermoCook a positive write up. All opinions are my own. There are affiliate links in this post so that if you buy the Optimum Thermocook I will get a small commission.