Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Smoked Duck

I've only made a whole duck once before.  It wasn't a particularly good experience.  This was a few years ago, before we had access to some quality duck, so I had bought a frozen imported one that was exceedingly small.  I roasted it, trying an a l'orange recipe, but I think that duck was not destined for success from the get go.

Fortunatley, this time, was a much better experience.  I had an absolutely gorgeous, proper sized duck from Mariposa Farms about 45 minutes outside of Ottawa.  As an aside, Mariposa Farms is a lovely farm that raises a variety of animals.  They provide their meats to many of the best restaurants in the area.  They raise their animals in a wonderful environment.   When we went there, I had the pleausre of meeting one of the owners (originally from Saskatchewan) who showed us around.  You could tell that the animals are a priority and extremely well treated. This, to me, should be a consideration for all carnivores. 

As you know, duck is a fatty bird.  This can be beneficial for getting a crispy skin, but only if done right.  One method that I found that I thought would be perfect for the smoker, was to pour a good amount of boiling water over the bird, before putting it on the smoker.  First you cut several tiny slits in the skin, then pour at least 1.5 - 2 litres over the bird.  This starts to melt and reduce the fat. 

I opted to go for a more Asian style duck for the smoker.  I prepared a standard teriyaki sauce, spiked with five-spice powder.  This would be used for basting the bird while it cooked. 

To cook the bird I employed the "beer can" method.  I didn't actually use beer as my liquid, just some watered down orange juice (keeping with the teriyaki recipe).  I like this method on the smoker as it seems to cook the bird quite evenly and the liquid helps to keep it moist.  In addition to the baste, I also sprinkled a bit of five-spice powder on the skin of the bird.

I smoked the duck with cherry pellets for 5 hours.  I think it didn't need this long, but other obligations prevented me from taking it off sooner.  Fortunately my husband was available to assist as the official baster.  He basted the bird every hour. 

When done, the  whole bird isn't the prettiest sight.  I think the beer-can format has something to do with it.  Fortunately, this isn't an indicator of taste.

The duck had crispy skin as it should.  I actually don't think it would have achieved this as well without the boiling water part of the recipe.  The flavour was well balanced.  The teriyaki glaze came through but was not overpowering.  The meat was tender - not too juicy, not too dry. 

Bonus:  Although I had to freeze my leftovers, my plan is to use the extra meat to make Mesa Grill's duck quesadillas.

Smoked Teriyaki Duck
4-5 pound duck
1.5 litres boiling water

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup soya sauce
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup sherry
juice of one orange
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 knob of ginger, minced
1 tsp five-spice powder, plus extra to shake on the bird

Extra orange juice for beer can cooker

Make several small slits in the duck with a sharp knife.  Place the duck breast side up in a clean, disinfected sink and pour the boiling water over it slowly.  Let drain.  (be sure to clean and disinefect the sink again once you remove the duck)

Prepare the sauce by mixing the oil, soya sauce, honey, sherry, orange juice, garlic and ginger in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and let reduce 2-3 minutes.  Let cool.

Place the duck on a beer can cooker filled half-way with orange juice.  Baste with sauce, then sprinkle with five spice powder. 

Prepare the smoker with cherry pellets on a high heat for 15 minutes, then reduce to 250F.  Put the duck on its beer can cooker onto the smoker.  Baste every hour and cook for 3-5 hours until the internal temperature (measure at the thigh) is 160F - 170F.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Sunday Gravy in a Pressure Cooker

You will see at No Smoke No Pressure that I got a very cool pasta press for my Kitchenaid mixer.  When I first went to use it I was so excited about the pasta, that I forgot about the sauce, so when it came time to get the sauce ready I was short on time, but didn't want to compromise.  The pessure cooker came to the rescue.

Sunday Gravy is a traditional Italian term to describe a sauce that was usually made on Sundays.  It was primarily based with several meats and would simmer all day and fill the house with terrific aromas.  You can find all sorts of Italian-American recipes for this dish.  Don't worry about exactness, use what meats you might have on hand including bracciole and meatballs.  It's more about combining great ingredients and feasting with friends and family.

For my Sunday Gravy I went with on-hand ingredients.  I coarsely chopped some carrots, garlic and onions and sauteed them in the pressure cooker.  I then added my meats: hot Italian sausage, meatballs, cut-up pork spareribs.  I also added 1/2 cup water.  I sealed the pressure cooker, turned to med-high heat and let it come up to pressure - at that time I reduced the heat to med-low (high enough to sustain pressure) and let it cook for 20 minutes. 

After 20 minutes I used the quick-release method to release the steam (where you open the vent - be sure its pointed away from you).  I then added tomatoes and my seasoning.  I re-sealed and brought to pressure againa and cooked an additional 10 minutes.

This sauce was a gorgeous meat based sauce.  Each meat provided its own texture and flavour.  The tomatos and seasoning weren't prevelant, but played a strong supporting role.  Topped on my homemade rigatoni it was a hearty, delicious, comforting meal. 

Sunday Gravy - Pressure Cooker
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, large dice
1 large carrot, large dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 lb meatballs
1/2 lb spareribs, chopped up
1/2 lb hot Italian sausage, chopped
14 oz tin of tomatoes
14 oz tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
4 leaves fresh basil (if available) plus some for garnish
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Heat oil in the pressure cooker and saute the onions, carrots and garlic for about 2-3 minutes until softened.  Add all the meats at once along with water.  Secure the lid and turn heat to medium-high.  Once it meets pressure, reduce heat to medium-low and cook at pressue for 20 minutes.  When ready, use the quick release method (release steam away from you).

Add the remaining ingredients to the pot.  Resecure the lid and bring back to pressure and cook for 20 minutes.  Use the quick release method again and serve. 

Garnish with chopped fresh basil and grated parmesan.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Easy Smoked Salmon

I don't mind salmon.  In fact I quite like it.  But I have to say that when it's prepared on the smoker, it's a new beast (or fish I guess) that I absolutely adore. 

This round is an easy smoked salmon.  A real no fuss no muss recipe.   

Although the low and slow method of smoking can produce fabulously tender  results, depending on the meat, it can also leave it quite dry.  Spritzing during cooking helps this, but sometimes I don't want that level of commitment in my cooking adventure.  That's where this recipe comes in. 

You simply mix some mayonnaise and dijon mustard and rub it onto the salmon evenly.  This not only provides a nize glaze on the salmon, but also seems to help prevent it from drying out.   I'm using a skinless fillet of salmon, so I've placed it on a heavy duty piece of foil.  To be extra sure it doesn't dry out, I turned up the edges of foil and added a bit of white wine. 

I prepared the smoker in usual fashion using apple pellets - turn to high for 15 minutes then reduced to about 250F.  I put the salmon on foil right on the grill and let it smoke for 2 hours. 

The final product was a lovely browned piece of salmon that wasn't too dry, but had a delicate flaky texture.  The mayo/dijon spread provided a mild, creamy flavour.  The aplle smoke wasn't overpowering, but provided a subtle smoky flavour. 

Bonus:  the cold leftover salmon proved to be both an excellent addition to eggs benedict, as well as an appetizer with cream cheese and crackers. 

Easy Smoked Salmon
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup white wine
Skinless salmon fillet

Prepare a large piece of heavy duty foil (or double a piece of regular foil) sized big enough to hold your salmon fillet.  Fold up the edges of the foil.  Mix the mayo and mustard and spread generously and evenly over the fillet.  Pour the wine around the salmon.

Prepare your smoker and smoke the salmon, on foil, for 2 - 2.5 hours at 250F.