Most middle aged (be kind to me, late 50s is middle age) men have some unusual stuff in their garden sheds. More than half a lifetime collecting tools and labour saving implements and lots of redundant technology means that we have little space for that what really matters. When I say “we” I don’t mean me. No. I threw out all that gardening and domestic repair nonsense to make space for the Bradley Digital Six Rack Smoker. Just what every every self respecting old fart needs in his life.
There’s little point in having the latest and greatest six rack smoker if you aren’t going to smoke something. So this weekend, I smoked a brace of duck. For ye who think duck grow in a foil container in the supermarket, a brace is two. I got these in the butcher so using the old world description is good. What better way to serve duck than with some bittersweet sauce. Hence, I concocted Smoked Duck with Orange Sauce.
To give it more of an oriental than a classic French twist, I served this with some noodles and spring onions. I reckoned that it was not worth firing up the smoker for just one duck, so I did a second one. We enjoyed that one cold a couple of days later.
So my ingredients list for this includes the following:
- 2 whole fresh duck
- 2 tablespoons of honey
- 2 tablespoons of light soy sauce
- Salt and pepper to season
- 4 to 6 spring onions
- Noodles for four people
- Sesame oil to flavour the noodles
For the sauce
- Juice of 4 juicy oranges
- 5 or six slices of fresh ginger root
- Half a tablespoon or so of sugar
The preparation of the duck is really very simple. This will work well in a regular oven too, though without the lovely smoky flavour. First thing to do is to spike the duck on the underside. Do this with a skewer or with a big ‘devil’s fork’ like mine. This is to allow the excess fat (boy, will there be excess fat) to run off.
Season the duck. Mix the soy and honey together. Paint the duck with the soy and honey mixture.
Fire up the smoker to 160ºC. I used a mixture of oak and apple wood for a slightly sweeter flavour. The duck took a couple of hours to come up to temperature.
Side note on cooking temperatures and attracting ire.
When I cook duck, I pretty well ignore the safe temperature recommendations. This may be considered a bad idea by many. Some suggest that 70ºC is the place to go. I took the duck only as far as 52º. This on the basis that it would continue to cook while it rested and reach somewhere above 56ºC. This gives nice pink, juicy meat. Any higher than that and the duck starts to take on the consistency of an old wellington boot. It may be safe but, it’s disgusting to eat. I am not recommending you do as I do. Take your own chances.
But That’s not the only ire I attract. It’s pretty well impossible to get the duck into the smoker without getting caught in a cloud of smoke. While the duck was cooking (in the smoker, in the shed, in the back garden). I took advantage of the time to cut the grass out front. A neighbour of ours was walking by and engaged me in conversation. During the chat, he asked me if I noticed anybody burning leaves. I didn’t and said so. He eyed me suspiciously and left. Word got back to me a couple of days later that he suspects I have been committing this heinous crime. The evidence being the general smell of smoke at our house and the distinct aroma from me. As they say; “Do I look bothered?”.
Back to the cooking. The orange sauce is simplicity itself. Squeeze the juice from the oranges into a saucepan. Slice the ginger and add to the saucepan. Add the sugar. Bring to the boil and reduce until it goes from a thin liquid to a nice bittersweet sauce.
When the duck is up to temperature, remove from the smoker.
I let the duck rest and come up to temperature.
I cooked the noodles in water and added them and the sliced spring onions to the wok, frying them in some sesame oil to warm through.
Next I sliced the duck. If you don’t like pink meat, look away now.
I served the dish as one might with the duck on top of the noodles with some delicious orange sauce poured over the top.
That’s a glass of dry French cider in the background. It goes really well with the duck (as it did with some smoked pork too). If you have a smoker, give it a go. If not, you can get a very nice roast duck with orange sauce by cooking it in the oven. You will attract less ire that way too.
My final note on smoked duck. It is delicious cold too. We ate the second duck a couple of days after cooking. Wonderful stuff, though most other food in the fridge smelled a little like they had been behind the bicycle shed at school, having a sneaky fag.