Move over turkey! This holiday season why not try smoked duck as the centerpiece of your family’s feast? It is just as easy to smoke as turkey or chicken on the TEC Grills Infrared Smoker/Roaster, but will still look elegant, different, and make a big impression on your guests.
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WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Duck is richer and fattier than chicken or turkey, and is all dark meat. As a result, it really stands up to smoking and other hearty flavors, and it is pretty difficult to over cook it because the fat self-bastes the meat while it cooks. It pairs nicely with all of the other rich flavors found on your holiday table.
Farm raised duck is available in most grocery stores, typically in the frozen section. If you are a hunter and fortunate enough to have wild duck on hand, that is delicious too. Just note that wild fowl can be a little on the lean side and a little gamier, so smoking might not be your preferred method of cooking these birds.
Since farm raised ducks are so fatty, though, it is important to prick the skin prior to cooking. This helps some of the fat render away during the cooking process, and helps crisp the skin (versus becoming rubbery).
Also note that ducks do not have as much meat on them as chicken or turkey. A 3-4 pound duck will yield enough meat for about 4 people, making them a great choice if you are hosting a small crowd.
PREPARE THE DUCK
If you have a frozen duck, let it defrost in a covered container in the refrigerator for a few days. Or, you can soak it in a cold water bath, changing the water every 30 minutes until it is thawed.
1. Rinse the duck under cold water. Remove the packet of giblets and neck (save for stock if desired).
2. Pat the duck dry all over with paper towels, and place on a sheet pan. Make sure that the duck is completely dry.
3. Trim extra fat from the neck and back area.
4. Using a sharp small knife, pin, or even corn picks, prick the skin all over. Be careful to just prick the skin, try not to penetrate the meat underneath too.
5. Mix together about 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar with 2 tablespoons honey. Brush over the skin of the duck. Season the duck with salt and pepper all over, including inside the cavity.
6. Place the duck on a rack set inside a sheet tray, and place the uncovered duck back in the fridge to chill and air dry at least 6-8 hours or overnight.
7. Remove the duck from the fridge about 30 minutes before you will grill it to allow the duck to come to room temperature.
8. Let the duck sit at room temperature while you preheat the grill.
SMOKE/ROAST THE DUCK
Here’s the really easy part!
1. Place the Smoker/Roaster rack on top of the grates of your TEC Grill. Position the chip corral in front of the rack, and fill the corral with small wood chips (we suggest cherry wood with duck). No need to pre-soak the chips!
2. Preheat the grill on medium for 10 minutes with the hood closed until the chips start to smoke.
3. Place the duck on its back on the Smoker/Roaster rack. Don’t tie up the legs or wings of the duck. Leave them open, as this will allow the heat to better penetrate the thigh area.
4. If desired, position a remote thermometer deep in the thigh of the duck, taking care not to touch the tip of the probe to the bone (this will give you an incorrect temperature reading).
5. Turn the heat down to low, and close the hood.
6. Check on the duck about every 30 minutes to replenish the wood chips, check its temperature, and admire as the skin turns a beautiful golden mahogany color.
7. Cook until the duck’s internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 2 hours for a 3-4 pound duck.
8. Let the bird rest for at least 15 minutes, and preferably 30 minutes, before carving. We know it’s hard, but worth the wait!
TEC Tips: While you are waiting for the duck to rest, you can use your grill as a second oven to reheat all of the other delicious dishes you are serving alongside the duck! Or save the duck fat in the radiant drip tray. Strain it, and use it to make Duck Fat Fries!
CHERRY BALSAMIC SAUCE
Cherries and duck are a natural match for one another. The tartness of the cherries cuts through the fattiness of the duck, but with just a touch of sweetness. Serve a fruity Pinot Noir alongside to compliment all of your holiday dishes.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves stripped from stems
1/2 small shallot, minced
1. Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer, and cook until reduced by half and slightly syrupy. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.
What will you be grilling for the holidays? Share with us by tagging your grilling pics @TECGrills!