Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Duck Walks into a Bar...

A duck walks into a bar and the bartender says, "Why don't you stay for dinner?"  Seriously, ducks are very under-appreciated at the grocery store.  Why we wait for the holidays to eat them is anyone's guess, and every year I vow to eat more of the little buggers.  Everything about them is delicious, from their crispy skin to their amazing liver.  Even their fat is better than butter!  So, get yourself a duck and prepare to cook it.  The method described here is "Whole Smoked Duck" in a spicy orange marinade.  Let's get started!

You will need:
  • 1 Whole Duck (thawed, 5lb)
  • 2 Tsp each:
    • Chili Powder
    • Kosher Salt
    • Ground Pepper
  • 1/4 Cup each:
    • Chicken Broth
    • Undiluted frozen orange juice
    • Orange Marmalade 
The duck I bought came with a packet of orange sauce.  I used the recipe here instead, because its hard for me to trust packets that don't list ingredients on the labels.  Do you ever wonder what's in that "Gravy Packet" that slides out of a raw turkey?  Yeah, me neither.  It goes straight to the garbage, but I admire them for trying!

Ok, slice your duck out of its packaging and rinse it thoroughly with cold water, then dry it off with paper towels.  Lay it out on a cutting board and have a closer look.  It resembles a strange elongated chicken with stubbier legs, doesn't it?  Note that the breasts are a bit smaller than a chicken's, and there is a bit more fat in pockets all over the bird.  There is more fat on the back of the bird than the breast, so we'll cook it with it's backside UP so the fat can drip down and help season the rest of the bird while it cooks.

Once you've inspected it, place the duck in a bowl and get the marinade ready.  Mix all of the ingredients together in a smaller bowl and then pour them over the duck.  Flip the duck over and over until it's completely covered inside and out.  Park the duck bowl in the fridge for a few hours (uncovered), then take it out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter while you get your fire ready.

Ready your grill or smoker for indirect heating.  This little quacker will lie, breasts down, directly on the grate of your grill, away from any direct flames.  It's a sad day for the duck, but a banner day for YOU!  Bring the temperature around the duck to 225 degrees, tuck a thermometer probe up under its armpit and into the meat of the breast.  Poor girl.  She looks "defeated" doesn't she?  Don't worry, she'll go out in a blaze of glory! 

Leave the ducky inside the grill for about 4 hours at 225.  My duck weighed 5.5lbs so yours may take more or less time, just be sure to watch your thermometer and don't open the grill to peak!  Here she is when her breasts hit 165 degrees!  Note how the skin tightened up and browned ever so nicely?  Ducks are so marvelous!  Cover with foil and let it rest for about 20 minutes before you slice it for serving.

Ok, how glorious is this duck?  The skin is crispy and very rich.  There is a hint of orange with a nice juicy and smoky goodness to the whole thing.  I cut the duck straight down the spine, in half, from top to bottom, then I roughly cut portions from leg, thigh, breast, and wing.  It did not last long!

I managed to save just enough to make a small duck sandwich today, but the rest disappeared in less time than it took to take the green beans off the table and to put them back into the fridge.


  1. Holy Bejesus.... I love duck, and don't do it nearly enough. Yours looks perfect. I am also stuck in MN,but not for long. Ironically, will be moving to TX or NM soon. AND, I also have a Yoder! Thanks for the great tutorial, gonna do one this weekend!

  2. amazing, duck, this is delicious, smoking adds value to it.


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