Duck fat may just be the most exquisite cooking medium on the planet. Better than butter, better than bacon grease, better than olive oil. Spectacular fried potatoes, outstanding when rubbed on quail before grilling, it simply makes everything taste better.
Traditional confit, slow-braising meat submerged in fat, often takes advantage of that flavor by using duck fat as the cooking medium. Trouble is, traditional confit takes a lot of fat. And duck fat isn’t cheap if you buy it, and takes several roasted ducks if you make it yourself.
Enter our old friend, the sous vide wand. We can get the same results with much less fat by sealing the meat in a bag with just enough fat to cover. Instead of a gallon or more, we can get by with just a cup or two.
For this recipe, we decided to cook one side of a wild turkey breast. Since wild turkeys actually use their muscles (as opposed to their domestic cousins who stand in a small, confined area their entire lives) even the breast meat from an old gobbler can be on the tough side. The long, low, moist cooking of the sous vide process is perfect for making the gnarliest old tom as tender as this year’s jake.
Once the turkey has finished cooking, save the mixture of cooking liquid and duck fat left in the vacuum bag for one of the best gravies you have ever tasted.
1 side of a wild turkey breast
1 cup Duck fat (you can purchase it at many specialty food stores or save your own from roasted ducks) Reserve two tablespoons
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons half and half
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
In traditional confit, the meat is dry cured with salt for several hours before cooking. Since a turkey breast doesn’t require a lot of curing, we simply sprinkle kosher salt lightly over the surface before sealing. Do the same with the chopped rosemary.
Place the seasoned breast in a vacuum bag. Pour in the duck fat (warm a bit to a nearly liquid state if it is too warm to pour) and work the breast around so that it completely covers the turkey breast. Vacuum seal the bag.
Set your sous vide cooker at 148 degrees and immerse the bagged turkey in the water. Cook for 5 hours.
After cooking, snip off one corner of the bag and pour the liquid into a bowl. Reserve the liquid for the gravy. Finish opening the bag and remove the turkey breast.
In a large Lodge cast-iron skillet, heat the remaining two tablespoons of duck fat over medium-high heat until you see tiny wisps of smoke begin to rise. Gently transfer the cooked turkey breast to the pan and brown for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the breast and brown the other side for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the turkey to a warm platter and lightly tent with foil to rest. Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour to the remaining fat in the skillet. Stir continuously until the flour takes on a nice golden brown color. Pour in one cup of the reserved cooking liquid from the sous vide bag and the half and half. Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to boil and thicken. Cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes or until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the gravy into a bowl.
Slice the turkey breast across the grain and serve topped with gravy.
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