Monday 2 January 2012

Recipe - Cold and Hot Smoked Duck Breast

We were invited over to a couple of friends for a New Years Eve celebration and we said that we'd bring some food with us.

This is what we brought for starter, cold and hot smoked duck breasts which we served with celeriac remoulade. You'll have to wait a bit for the celeriac recipe but you can have the duck recipe now.

This is a quite simple recipe but the end result is very rewarding. This time I cooked two duck breasts, which I thought would be enough for starters for us. If you cook more, just increase the brine proportions accordingly.

As for the brine, I added some brown sugar, black peppercorns and ground allspice to the recipe below. That's not necessary at all but if you feel like it, go for it. If not, just skip it. Even better - freestyle it with the flavourings you think will work.

Adjust the smoking times to suit you, the cold smoking can be in the region of two to three hours (mine was in for two hours and twenty minutes) and the hot smoking is normally fine with around an hours smoke. However, freestyle it to your hearts content as always.

I used alder wood for this, but guess what - if you prefer a different flavour go for it.

As I said in the beginning I served this with celeriac remoulade but I could just as well have gone with a red onion marmalade or chutney for example.

Enough chit-chat, let us have a look how to make this....

Ingredients (enough for 4 very generous starter portions)
1.5l water
400g salt

Two duck breasts, skin on

Bring the water to a boil, remove from the heat and stir in the salt. Let this cool down before pouring into a non-reactive container.

Score the skin on the duck breasts in a crosshatch pattern, trying not to cut into the meat. Add the duck breasts to the brine, weighing down with a plate if needed to make sure they're fully submerged. Let this brine for 2 - 3 hours, depending on the size of the duck breasts.

Remove from the brine, rinse well and pat dry. Let them sit in the fridge, uncovered, over night to dry out properly.

The next day remove them from the fridge as you prepare your smoker for cold smoking.

Once the smoke is rolling, pop the duck breasts into the smoker and smoke for 2 - 3 hours according to taste.

When the time is up, remove the duck breasts from the smoker and prepare the smoker for hot smoking at 100c/210F instead.

Once the smoker have reached that temperature and the smoke is rolling again - add the duck breasts back into the smoker.

Smoke for an hour and then turn off the smoke generator. Staying at the 100c/210F temperature let the duck breasts cook until they reach an internal temperature of 71c/160F.

Once they've reached that temperature, remove them from the smoker and let them cool down a bit. When they're a bit cooler, heat up a frying pan on a medium temperature.

Pop in the duck breasts, skin side down, and let them render down the fat for about 2 to 3 minutes. If you cook the duck breasts in batches, make sure to remove the rendered fat between each batch.

Remove the duck breasts from the pan and pat them dry with some kitchen towel and let them cool down again. Suitably cooled, wrap them in cling film and let them rest in the fridge over night.

The next day you can slice them up nice and thinly and either eat them right then or vacuum pack them for later consumption.



  1. Duck remains my favorite non-beef protein! It's so versatile, as you've shown here! Great job with this iteration of smoked duck, sir!

  2. I know what you mean - duck is ace. I don't cook/eat it often enough if I'm honest.

    Many thanks for you kind words on this attempt at cooking duck.

    Thank you for taking the time to post a comment - it is always good to know that what I post is appreciated.

    // Mike

  3. I am an avid lover of Magret d'Canard and this has been saved, as I am always on the look out for new and exciting recipes! Thanks Mike.

  4. Karen,

    Many thanks for your comment, I'm really glad that this recipe inspired you enough to save it for (possible) future use!

    // Mike

  5. Hmmm, I may have to think about getting a smoker! Of course, my husband won't believe there is actually a piece of cooking equipment I don't already have!

  6. Jean,

    The Bradley smoker is such a good piece of equipment that I'm just regretting not being able to house one before.

    I'd definitely recommend that you get one.

    I'm in about the same situation, then I start mentioning the new kit I want. Like a ice cream maker, sous vide machine and so on. Queue the sighs... ;)

    // Mike

  7. Excellent Mike, I'll give you method a try too!

  8. Excellent - please let me know how it turns out and what you think of it.

    // Mike


Please leave a comment. Positive or negative - all comments are welcome and useful. I do enjoy hearing what you think of my posts, what is good and what needs improving so please post away.

// Mike