a home cook with notions & an appetite
Our Farmer’s Market has ended for the season (the CSA has moved to our North Market for the next several weeks), but I have a few entries to catch up on. (This “catching up” is a theme that will repeat.) One of the stands we stopped by regularly had this awesome hodgepodge of vegetables, preserves and meats (“catching up” spoiler alert: and duck eggs!). In the meats category, they had grass-raised duck. That’s right, back-yard grazing duck. Or something to that effect, I’m not really an expert. I just like duck and I really wanted to make a smoked duck, as I’d promised these lovely ladies that our duck would end up in the respectful manner befitting a duck of this caliber. Let’s be honest, I may have been a bit high on cheese samples and hyperbole that day.
Chili Cheese Fries had a really great method for smoking a whole duck. It required a bit of prep and a lot of waiting and some simple ingredients:
Speaking of honey, have you seen this? S sent this my way this week and it confirmed that all of the purchases we’ve made at the Farmer’s Market from Conrad Hive & Honey is absolutely the way to go. The man may have a photo of himself wearing a bee beard up, but I know his honey is honey (and his pumpkin honey butter is awesome). Seriously, if you want to sell me Chinese honey, sell me Chinese honey – don’t remove the pollen just so you can lie to me. And don’t use Pooh to do your dirty work (read the article).
Oh, back to what was what with my duck and 100% I-know-the-farmer honey:
I have apple chips soaking off camera. I’ve also taken all the marinade ingredients and mixed them in a small saucepan and brought it to a boil and taken it off the burner to avoid bad things. It smells phenomenal. As I have the smoker heating up, it’s time to prep the duck. My non-factory duck, if you look carefully in the second photo, had a few feathers still present that I needed to pluck. No biggie. My other big step was piercing the duck skin all over with a fillet knife. Nothing huge – just enough to allow for piercing the skin without getting to the meat.
Why? Did I mention the boiling water? No? See, the duck sat in a colander over the sink for this step (safety and photography didn’t go together). What I did was pour a large pan of boiling water all over the duck. This was poured all over the breast side of the duck and done slowly. If you’re thinking, “this sounds familiar,” it’s because you’ve heard mention of this step in the making of Peking Duck. What the boiling water does is help render the fat so you get crispy skin. Yummers.
So onto the next step – patience. My smoker is up to temperature (225°) and I’ve made a fat-catcher for the smoking process – basically, it’s a cooling rack over a baking pan. For the next 5 hours, I’ll occassionally re-baste the duck with the phenomenal smelling sauce I’ve made. Here’s how it looked early on (I really didn’t want to loose a lot of heat taking pictures on subsequent bastes):
It had become a nice brown, but we did finish this off in a 500° oven for a few minutes for extra color and crispness – the sugar in the juices went a tad bit browner than we wanted, but the taste was amazing.
Leftovers had plans, like being shredded up into a salad or possibly mixed into a spring-roll thing, but we kept picking at this guy the whole weekend. See, this is the danger of your own freshly-smoked duck. It will cry out to you from the fridge and say things like, “you know you want me, come and nibble!” and you won’t be able to resist. True fact.