The reality is, there is more than one way to cook a duck. The first time I brought my limit of seven ducks home I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to cook’em or what I wanted to try.
The one thing I knew for certain, is that after I breasted-out my ducks I needed to get the blood out of the meat. Robbo gave me a great tip. An over night soak in a mixture of kosher salt and water did the trick. By the next morning pretty much all the blood was out.
While my duck breasts were soaking I had time to get on the internet and research some recipes. I found a few that looked interesting and I settled on one that gave me an idea.
I was going to smoke my duck breast and I was also going to change a recipe that I found for a brine…just a bit.
Here’s the ingredients that I settled on:
2 quarts apple cider
½ cup kosher salt
½ cup brown sugar
2 crushed bay leafs
1 tea sp. cracked peppercorn
1 tea sp. minced garlic
1 tea sp. garlic pepper
Mix your ingredients thoroughly with a wisp until the salts and sugars are dissolved.
This time I am actually going to smoke duck breasts and goose thighs. For the breast prior to brining I cut them in half length wise. For larger breasts such as big mallards I will even cut those into three pieces.
I will let this meat soak for a good twenty four hours. It’s all about adding flavor and ensuring that your meat will be nice and tender when the smoking is complete.
When you remove your breast and thighs form the brine you’ll notice a slight color change. No worries, this is the result of the salts and sugars absorbing into the meat.
Now here is the game changer. Knowing that duck and goose are extremely lean and free of fat also means that it is very easy to over-cook and have it end up chewy and tough. That is exactly what we don’t want.
I knew I needed to add some fat to the meat prior to smoking. In my mind I thought, “why not wrap each piece in bacon”. Everyone knows that anything cooked in bacon is a sure hit. Make sure you get the “Thick Cut Bacon”. It will cost a little more, but the amount of fat in each piece protecting your prized duck or goose is well worth it.
Wrapping each piece of duck and goose is pretty simple. For the duck strips I just take a single piece of bacon and go around it length wise and pin it in place with a tooth-pick. I make sure the tooth-pick is pushed all the way in on the bottom so it’s not in the way when setting your wrapped meat on your smoking rack. It’s OK if it sticks out of the top a bit. For the goose thighs I basically spiral wrap the bacon around the thigh from top to bottom.
Because duck and goose meat is so dense, it’s not like smoking fish. I find that you really do need to smoke at higher temperatures. I use a Little Chief and put it in an insulated box that I built. This works great in getting my smoker up to the temps that I need. Something else I do to get my smoker up in temperature is a combination of chips and pucks.
I like to use the Peterson Smoke Pucks, as they really aid in getting the smoker to the higher temps that I need. I also use smoking chips for flavor. When smoking fish or fowl fruit chips are always a great choice. For this recipe I use apple chips as it complements the apple cider brine very nicely.
The overall smoking time will vary. I usually keep the smoker between 140 and 160 for six to seven hours. As the meat in the smoker warms up I eventually get it up to about 180 for at least the last hour to hour and a half.
Overall smoking time tends to be about eight hours depending on your temps. I want the bacon on the outside of the duck done but not burned.
Because of the bones in the goose thigh meat it actually takes a bit longer to smoke. Once I removed the duck from the smoker the goose thighs were left in the smoker for another hour and a half. Total smoke time for the goose was about nine and a half to ten hours. Again, total time will depend on your smoker temperature control.
Goose thighs on the top rack and the duck strips on the other three racks.
A good look at what the bacon wrapped pieces look like right out of the smoker. Again, the bacon is done but not burned.
Finally I simply unwrap the bacon and prepare the meat for serving. With the duck, I like to cut it into strips. You can see how the meat ends up medium rare and moist. You will not believe the amount of smoke flavor on this fowl, it’s amazing. For the goose thighs, I strip as much meat off the bone as I can. You will find that the goose tends to be just a bit tougher then the duck, however it’s still very flavorful.
Give this smoke duck or goose recipe a try, I think you’ll find a new favorite to serve to your friends and family around the holidays.
The Outdoor Line
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