I have been craving duck for the longest time and on my recent trip to Sydney, I was able to see some cooking techniques and taste some freshly cooked duck. The Luv-a-Duck brand put up some inspiring cooking demonstrations and I was fortunate enough to have a conversation with one of their head chefs. One thing lead to another and I couldn’t wait to come home and buy a duck to try out some techniques.
This recipe was inspired and adapted by two sources. The first was this post by The Smoker on the Bradley Smoker Forums. The second was for the smoking ingredients from this recipe on Luv-a-Duck recipe collection.
[ Serves: 3 | Time: 24 hours | Cost: $8 total ]
[ Joes Rating: 4 / 5 | My Rating: 5+ / 5 ]
Breast of one duck
1 litre water
¼ cup salt
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
3 star anise
½ teaspoon cracked pepper
½ cup jasmine rice
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup black tea leaves
1 orange – rind
1 lemon – rind
3 star anise
1 orange – juice
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Combine all the brine ingredients together in a pot and bring to the boil. Heat for five minutes to infuse the mixture before removing from the heat and cooling. Once it is cold, pour it over the breasts and store in the fridge over night ¹.
- Drain the breast from the brine mixture and use paper towels to dry the breast well. Allow the breast to rest for 10 minutes uncovered on a plate in the fridge. Dry the breast again as it will have given off more moisture.
- Combine all the smoking ingredients in a bowl and use your finger tips to rub the mixture together to release the oils from the rind.
- Line a wok with several layers of foil and spread the smoking mixture evenly in the bottom on the foil². Put on the hot plate at the hottest setting and place a lid on the smoker. Allow five minutes to make sure it is up to heat before placing your breasts in the steamer skin side up on a wire rack above the mixture.
- Reduce the heat to ¾ full and smoke the breasts for 10 minutes. Do not remove the lid during this time ³.
- Remove the breast from the steamer. Place the breasts in a frying pan over a moderate heat skin side down and cook until the skin is crispy. This should take no more than 3 minutes.
- Allow the breast to rest in a bowl covered with foil for 5 minutes.
- Make a salad of mixed leaves, herbs and vegetables. To make the dressing, whisk all ingredients together.
- Slice the duck and lay it over the salad. Drizzle the dressing over the duck and salad and serve immediately.
- Note 1: I am so sorry I was able to get photos of the brine stage. My camera died and needed a visit to the vets til it would cooperate again!
- Note 2: Make sure you don’t cut corners and only use one sheet of foil. While the brown sugar will give a gorgeous richness to the smoking, it will also melt and become a sticky mess. After 15 minutes on the hot plate, this is how mine looked.
- Note 3: Dont be tempted to lift the lid and look inside the smoker once the process has started. You will allow the steam / smoke / heat to escape and may end up ruining the results.
- O M G! Someone call the police. I’ve just been hit by the flavour truck! Seriously though, I think this is one of the best dishes I have cooked in a very long time – perhaps since the lamb calzones a few months back.
- My salad contained some baby cos hearts, capsicums, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, bean sprouts, and chunks of fresh parsley and mint. The dressing blended perfectly with all of these ingredients.
- I know 24 hours seems an excessive amount of time for one dish, but let me tell you – it was really worth it. No, serious – it.was.worth.it!
- Diabetic Note: Nothing to be afraid of here, to be honest. Most of the fat in the breast dissolves through the smoking process and as you can see in the photo above, renders off during the crisping of the skin. If you are being very mindful of your fats, remove the skin.
- Ethical Note: Joe and I were just discussing the value of this whole event. I purchased one size 22 duck for $15 dollars. I utilised every portion of the duck – you will see two more duck recipes coming in the next few days although this was the best of them. There is a massive win situation here with using the whole bird and dividing the price.
- Additional Ethical Note: While I was in Sydney, I was able to talk to the head chef and manager about how these birds are farmed. They are barn raised not caged. Originally I baulked at this, but they took the time to talk to me about it at length. While I would have preferred free range, I do understand the decisions of the management on this point – ducks take time to mature and a loss of up to 20% was being experienced when they attempted the free range option. Foxes and birds of prey would run the ducks ragged and they would lose their condition. In the end, it was a wise choice, both economically and ethically.
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