Food & Drink

A One-Pot (and Two-Bag) Wonder

If you’re new to sous-vide cooking, chef Hugh Acheson’s recipe for duck breast and warm mushroom salad, from his latest cookbook, is a great place to start

Photo: Andrew Thomas Lee

Duck breast is so easy to cook, but often mauled by heavy hands. The aim is for a crisp skin, with the fat underneath rendered mostly away, and tender flesh, with a slight, pleasing, gamey flavor, followed by beautiful richness. Often you see duck paired with fruit, like the ubiquitous duck a l’orange, but here I am aiming towards luxury earthiness. You can use whatever mushrooms you can find, with shiitakes and oysters providing the closest match to wild mushrooms like porcini and chanterelles. By all means go with chanterelles and porcini if you have them, or white button mushrooms if your choices are few and far between.Hugh Acheson

Reprinted from Sous Vide. Copyright © 2019 by Fried Pie, LLCPhotographs copyright © 2019 by Andrew Thomas Lee. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.




  • Seared Duck Breast with Warm Mushroom Salad (Serves 4)

    • 4 duck breasts (about 6-ounces each, scored)

    • Kosher salt to taste

    • 4 sprigs fresh thyme

    • 2 pounds mixed mushrooms, cut into 1-inch pieces (oysters and shiitakes work great.)

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil

    • 1 shallot, small diced

    • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

    • 1 tablespoon butter

    • pinch chili flake

    • 1 teaspoon tarragon, rough chopped

    • 2 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, rough chopped

    • ¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano shavings


  1. The day before you plan to cook the duck, score the skin side of the duck with a sharp paring knife in a diamond grid pattern, just incising  of an inch deep. This will allow the fat to render off during cooking and later searing. Season the duck breasts with about a teaspoon of salt, cover, and place in fridge over-night.

  2. Preheat circulator water bath to 58°C/136.4°F.

  3. Place the duck breasts and 2 thyme sprigs in a sealable gallon-size plastic bag. Submerge the bag in the hot water bath using the displacement method [partially submerge the unsealed bag, then push out any remaining air, seal, and fully submerge], and cook for 1 ½ hours.

  4. While the duck is cooking, in a separate sealable gallon-size plastic bag, add mushrooms, the remaining thyme sprigs, olive oil, and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

  5. After the duck has cooked in the hot water bath for 1 ½ hours, remove duck from bag and set on plate lined with paper towels. Pat the skin dry to remove any excess liquid and set aside to rest.

  6. While duck is resting, turn the circulator up to 85°C/185°F. When the circulator reads 85°C/185°F, use the displacement method to sink the mushrooms into the hot water bath. Cook the mushrooms for 1 hour. Remove the bag of mushrooms from circulator and set aside.

  7. When the mushrooms are just about done, place a large non-stick skillet or cast iron on medium heat. Once the pan is hot, place duck skin-side down and sear for 5 minutes until skin is brown and crisp. Flip duck and cook for 30 seconds on other side. Remove duck from pan and let it rest on a plate lined with paper towels. Drain off all but one tablespoon of rendered duck fat from the pan, and lower the heat to medium-high. Add shallots to the pan with the duck fat, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and their liquid to the pan and let cook for 4 minutes. The liquid will have reduced and the mushrooms will begin to crisp. Increase heat on pan to high and cook mushrooms for another 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add sherry, butter, and chili flake. Mix in tarragon, parsley, and Parmigiano shavings.

  8. Slice the rested duck, against the grain and lay on plates or platters. Spoon mushroom salad over duck.