Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Smoked duck - a Thanksgiving experiment

There was a slight delay in uploading this Thanksgiving feast, but better late than never!

After discovering the power of my friend's smoker, I asked if I could borrow it for Thanksgiving. He generously said yes!
Cue the music and my wheels turning. I have never cooked duck, but felt like this was the time to take on the challenge. I read that sometimes its better to air dry it for 24 hours, like Peking duck, to help crisp the skin. As much as I would like to install a hook in my fridge, time did not permit and I went with an 18 hour brine instead.

Step 1: Thanksgiving Eve
Brining the bird
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp yellow and brown mustard seeds
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tbsp cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
5 garlic cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 large strip of orange peel (reserve the orange for the next day)
1 cup of kosher salt
1 gallon of water
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup wheat free tamari

1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer.
2. Off the heat, add 4-5 cups of ice to cool down the brine.

Ready your duck, open it up and pull out the neck, heart, liver and gizzards. (I saved them for the gravy.)

Place the duck into a bucket or large tupperware container for its evening bath.

Cover and keep in the fridge till you are ready to smoke.

Day 1: Thanksgiving
Smoking the duck
brined duck
orange, halved
soaked wood chips (for smoking)
water (for the basin in the smoker)

I pulled the duck out of the fridge, drained the brine and pat-dried the skin while the dinner host started the charcoal. Once it go red and then white, we spread it out onto the bottom layer of the smoker, and covered it with more charcoal.

Wood chips soaked for about 1 hour:

I through a few handfuls of chips onto the charcoals, then placed the body of the smoker on top. I filled the basin with water and half of the orange. Then placed on the racks. I put the other half of the orange into the duck cavity and place it up on the top rack.

The internet told me the duck should take about 5-6 hours, but at 1:45 it looked like this:

Oh hello!

At 3 hours, the internal temp was over 160, so I pulled it, slightly worried it was going to be dry.

The taste was wonderful! There was a great pink smoke ring and the meat was juicy. There was still some soft fat under the crisp skin, but no one complained.

I hope this will become a new Thanksgiving tradition.

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