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.

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