Hi @BerlinDave and others who are interested!
Here are the results of the big duck breast experiment:
Myself and our In-house content Chef @ChefNicole did four variations of time and temp.
- 1 duck breast cooked at 55°C/131°F for 1 hour
- 1 duck breast cooked at 57.2°C/135°F for 1 hour
- 1 duck breast cooked at 55°C/131°F for 3.5 hours
- 1 duck breast cooked at 57.2°C/135°F for 3.5 hours
We pre-seared them all, as pictured below, and then when we put them in the bags seasoned them with pepper, salt, cinnamon, smoked paprika, honey, and chipotle (a Chef Nicole original)
Breasts cooking at 55°C/13°F:
Breasts cooking at 57.2°C/135°F:
Cooked Breasts in Bags:
The final product all cooked and seared:
This breast was definitely the chewiest, but still had a lot of good flavor, you cannot cut it with a fork, but it was definitely cooked all the way through
This breast was tender and juicy, less chewy than the 55°C/131°F, you can cut it with a fork, and was my personal favorite texture for only an hour of cooking time.
This breast was the softest and mushiest, with a texture most similar to liver (as you experienced), you can cut it with a fork.
This breast was very tender, and @ChefNicole
said it was the most similar to a medium rare texture out off all of them, and you could cut it with a fork.
In summary: we agree that 3.5 hours at the texture definitely gets mushier, but noticeably more so in the breast that was cooked at 55°C/131°F. To our surprise the breast cooked at a slightly higher temp for 3.5 hours, had a great texture, but if you are not a fan of soft, it may not be for you.
Another important conclusion is that an hour is good amount of time to cook the breast, the breast cooked at 57.2°C/135°F for 1 hour turned out really well, and you would only need to go for longer if you really wanted a slightly softer texture.
Chef Nicole also hypothesized that @BerlinDave's might have come out even mushier because of the orange juice you cooked in in, since the acid in the juice might have broken down the meat even more.
In conclusion, they all came out cooked and tasting good, it is really just a preference of texture when choosing a time/temp combo.
I hope that this is helpful!
P.S. We also made a fall salad with the breasts, a recipe @ChefNicole will be posting in the near future!