Yes, this is a repeater! Wanted to get it on the new blog…in any case, you should make this!!
This is an item you don’t find many posts about. For whatever reason there aren’t a lot of people out there that are willing to put information about smoking ducks online. I found more Peking duck recipes than I did standard smoked duck recipes. I feel compelled to share because I think that duck is one of those most delectable items that is as equally intimidating to the home cook as it is divine to eat. Duck is not chicken. It has a thick layer of fat between the skin and the meat. This fat is rendered and used by chefs all over the world. Duck is best cooked in its own fat, whether by methods of traditional French confit or by the method I used today.
I admit, I was hesitant and nervous to make duck. First of all, you have one option for store bought duck and it is $20 a bird. It is illegal to sell wild duck, so that leaves one option, farmed. It is ok, there are many duck farms out there that produce sustainable meat, but you have to purchase it frozen no matter what. Second, since the investment is so large, you don’t want to screw it up and since there are not a lot of recipes out there, it makes you nervous!!
So I took the simple route. I read that you should smoke the duck for 60 minutes per pound or until the bird is 170 degrees. I also read you can brine or marinade them, or that you should not do this. I read that you should finish them in the oven, or that you should not…… I just rinsed the duck, tied the legs and tail, scored the skin and put it on the smoker for 3.5 hours. I put a drip pan beneath it to catch the fat to use later and away we went. I will note that I made my scores in the skin very shallow and did not try to cut into the fat at all. This lets the fat out but does not let the meat dry out.
I took the four pound bird off the smoker after 3.5 hours when it was at 160 degrees. The FDA says it has to be 170 degrees, but the liquids were clear so I pulled it. I do the same with chicken and have not died yet. We used apple wood and it really gave just the right smoke to the duck skin.
I removed the fat from the drip pan and put it into the refrigerator in a mason jar. Apparently it is more healthy than butter and can be used the same way. I will chronicle my cooking with it and post more on that later.
We butchered the bird and had a lovely dinner of duck and Brussels sprouts.
Now, I have to say that this is the first time I have really had a whole duck dinner. I have had confit at restaurants and whatnot, but they give you such a small portion, so after having just straight duck, I have a couple of notes to make. 1) Duck is rich. I can still taste it in my mouth. 2) I did not make duck just to make it. This was a practice run to see if this is something we wanted to include for Thanksgiving. 3) Duck is amazing and I want to learn more about cooking it and using the fat. 4) I am making smoked duck broth and will be following the general recipe for smoked chicken broth.
Think you might try it? If you do please share any tips you come up with. Also, please share the “don’ts”. I find those just as helpful.
**Sorry about the photos. The camera is broken and had to be sent in for repairs so these were all taken with the cell phone!