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Unread 11-25-2010, 01:28 AM   #1
IbrahimSS
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Default Smoked Duck: Experience Shared

Ok so I smoked my first duck today. I think I could do better but it was still pretty good. My girlfriend claimed she hated duck and I just changed her mind. In fact she said she'd definitely like to have it again. There isn't much information out there on the right way to do this so I had to improvise. I was asked to share my experience and so here it is.

Here's what I did:
1) Brined the duck
I used a heavily brewed black tea but I also added some cloves and cinnamon to the brew. If I had any star anise on hand I would have added that as well but alas it hasn't arrived in my spice order yet. I then added salt and sugar to the tea and did the normal overnight brine.
2) Poured boiling water over the duck
So after reading information on several websites and information provided to me here, I found out the people douse fatty ducks in hot water to a) pull the skin tight and b) remove some of the fat that's directly under the skin so the skin the crisp up. I did this a few times.
3) Dried the duck
More reading on the internet let me to believe it's a good idea to dry the duck for a few hours. I don't think I'd do this again. It seems like a waste of time.
4) Put salt & pepper on the bird. I would have liked to do an Asian five spice instead but again I'm still waiting on my star anise.
5) Smoked the bastard
Stuck the sucker in my WSM with some apple wood and cherry at normal slow cooking temps of 225-250.
6) Moved the duck to the oven
Ran out of fuel and the girlfriend was getting impatient about eating about 6-7 hrs into the cooking session so I pulled the bird out and stuck it in the oven to bring it up to USDA recommended 165 degrees and to crisp the skin.
7) Let sit for 15 mins
It was nearly 11pm when I pulled it out and we were hungry.
Ate

I believe I took some pictures to share but I definitely forgot to take a picture of the finished product because as I said impatient girlfriend was waiting.

Brain dump:
  • Drying the bird was probably a waste of time and I think leaving the bird out to dry wasn't my favorite idea. It's cold enough outside but still probably in the "Danger Zone".
  • At $26 a bird for the peking suck from D'Artagnan, this was a cheap experiment.
  • One bird probably feeds 4 tops or 1-2 hungry people. Again making it expensive relative to most meat that goes in my smoker.
  • It took a very long time to get the duck up to 165 degrees.
  • I've seen lots of sites say that ducks should be cooked lower than 165 degrees and it's a sin to cook them to that level of doneness. I'm curious about how safe this is then again I eat my steaks black and blue.
  • I caught the drippings of the duck fat which I'll use under the breast meat of the turkey I plan to cook in the next few weeks.
  • Getting the skin to a crisp in the smoker might be a very difficult challenge.
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Unread 11-25-2010, 05:34 AM   #2
SmokinAussie
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OK... First, I'd like to say it sounds like you did a great job...

Observations:

1. You've got absolutely nothing to worry about regarding "Danger Zone" for the duck. Firstly, because you brined it, and secondly because it's getting cold in NJ. Thirdly, your food safety laws are extremely strick, and you would have got that duck so fresh it was probably still quackin' In Europe and Asia, it's customary to hang ducks much like you'd hang beef... obviously not for 3 weeks, but you get the picture.

2. Maybe you cooked the duck on the low side... Maybe if you knocked it up to 300 -325 it would have come out better, crisper and certainly you'd have eaten earlier.. meaning more time for some "horizontal" action with GF. Because the duck was already brined, some tenderising had already taken place with the meat... so the higher temp is possible AND yes you could have had a lower finished internal temp... perhaps 150 or so

3. Drying the duck being a waste of time... yes indeed when you're cooking so low and slow. You might have found a difference at the higher temps, and also being a Asian style flavour a maltose coating might have given you crisper skin and better carmelisation.

The big deal here is that your GF has been converted and this means you did a great job! If you do find any photo's put 'em up. I'd love to see them.

Cheers!

Bill
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Unread 11-25-2010, 06:14 AM   #3
TopGun79
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Sounds good, ive done a few ducks as i love them (my wife not so much).

With trying to get a crispy skin try pricking the skin of the duck all over as this helps the fat under the skin to escape( as ducks have a thick layer of fat under the skin ) thus creating a crispy skin, aslo duck is not like like chicken you can eat when it is still pink.

My first few times i over cooked it cause i thought it had to be well done.
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Unread 11-25-2010, 11:29 AM   #4
IbrahimSS
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Thanks for the feedback.

I think in the future I might use a blade meat tenderizer as well. That will puncture the skin and tenderize the gamy meat further. I also think you're right about getting the temp a bit higher. That's something I was considering as well.

For now however I'm going to try some new meats before I go back to the duck. I have a long list of stuff I'd like to stick in my smoker.

thanks!
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