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Christmas Duck

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    Christmas Duck

    hey guys .... so, yes, I've been away from The Pit for a while. Life has been crazy. I have traveled about 75,000 air miles since Sep 1. Work is over the top busy, to say the least. But I'm finally about to get some down time for Hanukkah and Christmas, which is good. And this year, for Christmas Day dinner my wife and I have decided to change things up. We have always traditionally done a rib roast (using Meathead's technique, of course) ... except the one year we did a pork leg and a rib roast. But that's getting a bit predictable and boring. So .....

    This year I'm doing duck. I have never cooked duck before. So, this will be a new experience. I am thinking smoked is the way to go, but totally open to suggestions, thoughts, recipes, etc. I have two fresh ducks being delivered at my local butcher shop on Dec 18.

    So, you guys have until then to give me the advice, tips, tricks, etc that I need to make me a hero. :-D

    #2
    Welcome back ecowper! Meathead doesn't really have a standalone duck recipe. I have a duck in the freezer myself, and I was planning to just do it in the standard smoked turkey way. Common restaurant duck recipes call for it to be cooked to medium rare, which is only 135 max, in the breasts. I am nervous about that myself.

    Comment


      #3
      I'm thinking I'm gonna smoke it to 165 in the breast. I have folks coming over who do not enjoy medium rare beef, so I am thinking they won't enjoy medium rare duck either ... any thoughts on seasoning, etc? It's richer than turkey or chicken, can stand up to smoke and rub better I think.

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        #4
        I was just going to do the S&G rub myself. It will be a trial for me as well so I will learn if it's good or not on duck. On chickens I use my "Huskee's Rib Rub", but I don't think I would do it on turkey and therefore I'm leery of doing it on duck too. This may simply be a mindset though. I honestly think when I do mine I will go in the neighborhood of 150-155 in the breasts. There has to be some reason why 135 is the "Chef Temp", but I'm not willign to eat medium rare poultry either, but I will eat a med rare steak. Therefore, I will go above that, but not to 165 in case it turns it into cardboard.

        One time I was at a fairly fancy restaurant for an anniversary dinner with my wife. She ordered the duck and she thought it was undercooked. It tasted ok to me, but the slight pink was unnerving I will say that. At the table next to us the woman ordered duck as well, and she complained. The chef came out and said it's traditionally best served medium rare, echoing what I told my wife. I'm just not on that bandwagon myself...yet. But surely there's a good reason the pros are.

        Comment


        • Strat50
          Strat50 commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree with you. I'm not on that bandwagon either. The med-rare duck breast is a Continental Cuisine thing(French mostly). High heat, direct heat; like broiling, sauté, etc. For low and slow, 155-160ish is the name of the game, in my opinion.

        #5
        Don't be nervous Huskee, I have had my fair share of medium rare duck breasts cooked at home and here I am typing.
        Only problem is restaurants do not cook a whole duck. They split it. medium rare duck legs are inedible.
        You can either roast it to 150 whole or split and cook legs and breasts separately.

        Same thing with Goose.

        charcoal roasted duck, high heat no added would, is fantastic. Make sure you score the skin or poke it all over with a needle.

        OR, if you have time split the duck. Season the legs with salt, pepper and some fresh thyme, tightly wrap in HD foil. I use at least 3 layers so that none of the fat escapes. Cook that in a 225 degrees oven for about 2 1/2 hours. DO NOT UNWRAP, let it cool to room temp and refrigerate overnight.
        On the feasting day, remove from the foil and place the legs in a cold skillet and cook on medium heat or quick grill for that grilled flavor. The legs are already cooked, all you're doing here is tightening up the skin and get some texture on the legs.

        As for the breasts, I prefer simple seasoning S&P, skin side down, cold skillet. Place on medium heat and cook until the skin is crispy then flip. Brown the second side and flip again back to skin side until you hit desired IT.
        Best to cook skin side down for major of the time to render the fat and get crispy skin.

        Comment


          #6
          Thanks for the schoolin' Ernest!

          Questions for the duck pro:

          1) Why is med-rare preferred for duck breasts? Is 160-165 (chicken & turkey temp) going to dry them out?
          2) The method you describe is very detailed. I am lazy. Have you ever smoked/grilled them in the style of chicken pieces? (Cook to temp & feast when done)
          3) Pierce the skin because it's so thick and fatty? If I dont, what can I expect?
          3) Spatchcocking a whole duck is not the preferred way I assume? You recommend piecing it?

          Comment


            #7
            I think I've shared these before:
            BBQed duck, cooked to 155 on the PBC. No wood



            Pan seared duck at 135 IT



            Comment


              #8
              okay, so if I take the duck to 150 on the grill, I should be happy? no smoke? I've read a couple other places that recommend apple wood smoke .... just salt and pepper to season?

              Comment


                #9
                I will be using wood, I can promise you that. Apple, ash, or a mix.

                Thank you Ernest for those pics. I think the 150-155 sounds better and looks delicious.

                Comment


                  #10
                  I've cooked plenty of ducks in my time,both for home and for work. For whole ducks, 155-160 is what we use. Yes, there are many duck recipes that call for 135, however these usually just involve the breast. Use the temps you would normally use for chicken,or turkey, and you'll be fine. Yes, I've done duck breasts med-rare for certain things, but for bbq, take advantage of the richer(fattier) nature of the duck and season and smoke away. I like to inject mine, but I leave out most or all of the butter I usually use for injecting fowl. Add a good rub, under the skin if you like, and your friends and family will elevate you to deity status. When hunting as a boy, we would just rub them well with salt and pepper, then cook over hardwood coals. They were sublime.Of course, being outside all day might have had something to do with it...lol Good luck and good cooking.

                  Comment


                    #11
                    Awesome, thank you Strat50! I was still thinking I'd try it spatchcocked & whole (chicken style) with a pan underneath to snatch the dripping fat. At $3.89/lb at my local grocery store it's not terribly expensive to experiment further on a couple methods if I need to.

                    Comment


                    • Strat50
                      Strat50 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I've done both methods, and they are great. I split my ducks before steaming for crispy duck too. I'm sure with your expertise, your ducks will be sublime. Ducks are so underutilized, don't you think?

                    • Huskee
                      Huskee commented
                      Editing a comment
                      As tasty as everyone says they are, I would have to agree. Honestly I was shocked when I found it at $3.89 lb, I figured as classy as duck's rep is they'd be $10-12 per lb. I will experiment more now that I know I can get them nearby and they won't break the bank.

                    #12
                    Thanks Strat50, that really helps. I want all of my guests to enjoy the duck, not just those of us who prefer med rare meat.

                    Not settled on a rub yet, but thinking a bit of olive oil and salt to get the skin nice and crispy. Applewood smoke at the beginning of the cook. Get the breast temp in the 155-160 range and then let it rest for 10 min or so, before I carve.

                    Funny, I grew up hunting, but bird was mostly pheasant, not duck. So this is a new experience on my part.

                    Comment


                    • Strat50
                      Strat50 commented
                      Editing a comment
                      You are right on the money, my brother.

                    #13
                    I think you'll be very happy with charcoal, S&P. I wouldn't do a traditional BBQ, go for S&G if you must but by all means let the duck shine.

                    Comment


                      #14
                      Like what's been said before, medium on the separated duck breast but a whole duck is very forgiving because of high fat content. My favorite duck table sauce is a 50/50 mix of Smuckers orange marmalade and Grand Marnier, warmed lightly in the microwave, then stir out the lumps. I'm very partial to Wicked Que's Habanero Orange rub on duck, score the skin to get it down in there. Duck is hard to cut for presentation. I take the legs off, then cut the meat off the remaining carcass. Put it all in a pan, so it becomes a pass and serve dish. This way you get all the good parts off the duck, because there won't be any left in the dish after serving.

                      Comment


                      • Huskee
                        Huskee commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Orange sounds way better than S&G! I will look into the sauce w/ Grand Mariner like you mention. Would you say the Wicked Q habanero orange might be too spicy for the average kid or is it mild?

                      #15
                      Originally posted by Huskee View Post
                      Thanks for the schoolin' Ernest!

                      Questions for the duck pro:

                      1) Why is med-rare preferred for duck breasts? Is 160-165 (chicken & turkey temp) going to dry them out? Because duck is pretty much red meat throughout. And Evn though duck has so much fat, it's mostly in between the skin and flesh. Actual meat is lean.
                      2) The method you describe is very detailed. I am lazy. Have you ever smoked/grilled them in the style of chicken pieces? (Cook to temp & feast when done) Haven't tried that. It would probably work but you'd have to babysit the grill with a fire extinguisher with all that fat rendering.
                      3) Pierce the skin because it's so thick and fatty? If I dont, what can I expect? Oh yes or you can expect flabby, rubbery skin. I have rendered as much as 1/4 cup of fat from a pair of duck breasts.
                      3) Spatchcocking a whole duck is not the preferred way I assume? You recommend piecing it? I haven't tried Spatchcock method for fear of drying out the exposed meat
                      My thoughts in bold

                      Comment


                      • Strat50
                        Strat50 commented
                        Editing a comment
                        One trick we use in the restaurant is to "blanch" the ducks first @ 250 to render most of the fat. They are then chilled. The meat at this point is still pretty rare. For service, the ducks are cooked the rest of the way per the flavor profile of the dish. This can be roasting, broiling(moderate heat), etc. If one blanches the ducks on a bed of mirepoix, you have a base for an excellent sauce, if needed. We used this method using duck halves, so spatchcocking works fine(I have done this at home). It was my job to cook off about 10-20 duck halves every day, occasionally more for banquets. It's easy and no big deal.

                      • Ernest
                        Ernest commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Thank you Strat50.

                      • Huskee
                        Huskee commented
                        Editing a comment
                        Awesome guys, thank you so much!

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