Whether you raise domestic ducks or hunt them like many do during the winter months, we have a recipe that will titillate the eyes and tingle your tongue!
Duck offers a bolder flavor than other fowl like turkey or chicken, which is one reason why so many people like it smoked.
Another reason why duck is perfect fodder for a food smoker is because they are fattier than other game birds. As you well know, fat content retains moisture and absorbs smoky flavor better than lean meat, which is important to make this recipe work.
This recipe works well for both domestic and wild ducks, so whatever you have on hand (be it mallard, wood, cannie or speck) should work as long as it’s not ultra-lean. Here are a few quick recommendations before we get into the meat of things.
Guidelines For Smoking Duck
- If buying duck at a grocery store, avoid ones that have been pumped with brine or they will taste much too salty.
- When smoking duck, it’s best to pluck. Keeping that layer of skin on helps the smoky flavor linger and gives you the option of crisping the skin. You’ll have a harder time keeping the meat moist if you skin the duck.
- Smoke the bird whole. This will give you more tender, juicy results.
- Bigger ducks smoke better, though there’s no reason you can’t smoke smaller ones.
- This recipe is meant for a 5lb (2.25kg) bird, so if you are smoking a 2.5lb duck then divide the ingredients in half. Keep in mind that ducks are known to have heavier bones than other fowl you might be used to serving based on weight.
Best Way To Smoke A Duck
This is going to be different from your usual dinner preparation. We recommend that you cure the duck in the refrigerator for 6 days, so your prep work will begin one week in advance. That should give you more than enough time to work up an appetite!
- 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) Bradley Sugar Cure
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) poultry seasoning
- 2 tsp. (10 ml) onion granules or powder
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) paprika
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) sage, rubbed
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) marjoram
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) thyme
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) white pepper
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) garlic granules or powder
- 2 bay leaves, cut into thin strips with scissors (sprinkle on last)
Early Preparation (One Week Out)
- Wash the duck(s) and remove excess fat from the body inside and out, leaving skin on.
- Pierce the breasts and thighs well.
- In a large container, mix the above cure and rub all over bird both inside and out.
- Place lid on curing container and cure for 6 days in refrigerator. While curing, rub all surfaces many times again.
Final Preparation (One Day Out)
- Rinse ducks well with cool water and blot dry using paper towels.
- Stuff body cavity with crumpled newspaper that has been wrapped in paper towels.
- Now wrap duck with paper towels and wrap again with newspaper. Place a paper towel and newspaper under the duck to absorb liquids.
- Store overnight in refrigerator.
Smoking The Duck (Morning)
- Use butcher’s twine to secure the duck. Either hang or place the bird in the smoker so that the breast is facing down (we recommend using a sturdy S hook to hang it with the tail facing up to allow the smoke to flow more easily throughout the body cavity).
- Dry the duck in your Bradley smoker without smoke for one hour at 140°F. The point of this is to get rid of the clamminess of the skin.
- Now you are ready for smoke. At the lowest possible temperature, smoke the duck for around three hours using a wood of choice (fruit, nut). Turn up the temperature to 150°F and continue smoking for three more hours.
Cooking The Duck (Evening)
- In a preheated kitchen oven at 350°F, place duck on an elevated wire rack inside a pan. The pan should be at least one inch deep to collect the melted fat.
- Cover with aluminum foil and roast until the internal temperature of the bird reaches 170°F. You may want to check both breasts and thighs for doneness in case your oven cooks hotter on one side than the other.
We hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do.