Chinese New Year is around the corner and we are celebrating this weekend with my family. After the first time I made the tea smoked duck, my dad commented on how delicious it looked. So, this one's for you dad.
Last outing, I followed a recipe by Anita Lo that I had found on the internet. This go around, I am altering it slightly as is my experimental nature. Why experiment with a good recipe? Why not? It's fun and there's always chance for improvement. If all goes well, we should have a tender, juicy duck with excellent smoky sweet flavor and crispy skin. Though this process takes 3 days, it is really not all that much work, just a little forethought.
1 Fresh All Natural Duck, about 5 pounds
For glazing the duck:
6 tbsp honey
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1/2 cup rice vinegar
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp 5 spice powder
Before smoking the duck:
3 tbsp grape seed oil
salt and pepper
1 cup dried black tea leaves
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup brown sugar
Two days earlier, start prepping the duck. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Carefully place the duck into the pot and boil for a couple of minutes, not cooking the meat of the duck. This will help tighten the skin for a crispy outcome. Drain duck on a rack set over a pan and dry with paper towels.
Mix together the glazing ingredients and brush the duck, back side first. Allow to dry before turning over to glaze the breast side. I used my blow dryer set on cool to do this as I was too impatient to wait. Do not blow dry your duck with a hot blow dryer.
Place the duck in the refrigerator, uncovered until the next day. Last time, I hung the duck up in the basement with a fan on it overnight. That worked well, but I didn't want to take the chance with this on my parents. I thought refrigerator would be best, hence the extra drying day. Also refrigerate the glaze until the next day since it has had contact with the raw duck.
The next day, brush the duck again with the glaze following the same process as before. I started in the morning and did this several times throughout the day finishing with a coating around dinner time before allowing the duck to dry overnight again.
Prepare yourself for perhaps a visually unappealing duck at this point. But it will be good.
The smoking process will take about 2 hours. Factor in a little time for cooling before you can cut it for serving. Make a small pan to hold the smoking ingredients using heavy duty aluminum foil.
Mix together the tea leaves, rice and sugar and place into pan. Make another larger pan to place under the duck to catch the fat as it smokes. Build a fire on one side of you charcoal grill. When coals are hot and have turned grey, place the pan with the tea leaves, etc. directly on top of the coals. Place the other pan on the other side of the grill so that the duck will sit over it. The ideal grill temp should be 300f and the duck should be smoked via indirect heat. Place the grate back on the grill. Salt and pepper the inside of the duck and place it over the larger pan. Cover the grill, opening the top vents only. Smoke the duck for 45 minutes without opening the lid. Then brush the duck with grape seed oil, cover and smoke for another 30 minutes. Repeat this once again 30 minutes later. Make sure the grill maintains the 300f temperature adding new coals when necessary.
Admittedly, we had a bit of a hurdle... a basketball game in the middle of our cooking time led us out of the house for about an hour and a half. We debated whether to put the duck on before or after we got home and settled on before, which led us to leaving the duck unattended for that period of time. As horrified as I was at the color of the duck, its taste was still perfect and the meat still tender and juicy. The color was largely due to the smoking and not burning or over cooking as we feared. Still delish and devoured.