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I am expectantly awaiting the arrival of a sous vide circulator. I saw a clip where someone cooked a duck breast sous vide, finishing it off in a frying pan to crisp the skin. That simply makes no sense to me; as I would have thought that the (rather thick) layer of fat between the skin and the meat would remain, and make the breast nigh on inedible.

Extrapolating from that, I got to think about what temperatures are needed to render fat in genereal.

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

According to Amazing Ribs:

130-140°F - Fats begin to melt and render (liquefy). This is a slow process and can take hours.

Note: this is 55-60 C.

The speed of the process will increase with temperature.

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Interestingly, this conicides with the temperature range for the core temperature of a medium-rare steak ( – razumny Sep 9 '13 at 12:59

It's actually somewhat of a problem, if you're not careful. You will hear people say that you can't overcook something sous vide, and while that might be true with some things, anything that has a lot of fat can actually end up with the fat rendered right out of it. I've left a whole duck in so long that there was no fat left in the breast at all. I had to debone it and put all the meat into the rendered fat and put in the fridge for an ad hock duck confit, which by the way worked out beautifully, but wasn't what I had on the menu. We ended up going out to dinner.

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