Wednesday, 6 January 2010

where there's smoke, there's duck...

or New Year's resolution #1 - take up smoking

or how to smoke your duck and eat it

or 10 simple steps to smoking your duck


ok, I'll just get on with it, shall I?

For a while now, I've been following @paulscooking on Twitter. More to the point, perhaps, I've been checking out the recipes on his website - an eclectic mix of British and Asian cooking, with some other randoms thrown in once in a while. Finally, some time in November, I got around to making his storming Tau Yew Bak (braised belly pork with star anise and soy sauce) which was an unqualified and utterly delicious success.

Shortly after that, I bought some duck legs. Good plan, you might think, except that I couldn't find a recipe that really tickled my feathers, despite the fact that I have eleventy million recipe books.

But wait! An embryo of an idea fluttered across my brain (mmm, maybe that image doesn't work too well after all). And then and there, I hatched a plan.


And, like the good man he is, he came up with a quacker of a recipe for me. Smoked duck! Ah, of course, I said. Sichuan smoked duck. Of course. Erm, but I've never smoked anything in my life before. (Honest, Dad.) So, er, how?

Don't panic, said Paul. I'll email the details over to you. (It wasn't on his website at the time.)

And so he did. A few helpful other tweeters offered their top (wing) tips, in the meantime (copious quantities of silver foil being the standout one - thank you to all those concerned), and I was ready to fly.

This, my friends, is what happened next. Like I said up there ^^^, it's a case of how to smoke your duck in 10 easy steps. And they must be easy, because I managed it. Not only managed it, but managed not to (a) smoke the house out or (b) to burn it down, either. In my book, that's a success.

Here we go, then. First, marinade your duck legs:

smoking duck 1

Next, assemble your smoking ingredients. You can use any tea, but I think it's preferable to go with something that has a distinct flavour, such as Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong. I opted for the former.

duck smoking 2

Then, construct your smoker. Line everything with foil - you don't want a ruined pan. You also need a rack or similar to go over the smoking ingredients. We don't have a rack of the right size, so I, er, cut out the wire mesh from one of those anti-splatter thingummyjigs. We never used it anyway. Worked a treat, like so.

duck smoking 3

By now, it's time to get the smoking things smoking. Light hob, place pan over, and wait for little *pfffft* sounds to emanate from said pan, and for smoke signals to appear.

Look! Look - over there! Over there, at the back, towards the right! SMOKE!

duck smoking 4

Inhale. Go on. The tea, spices, sugar, and bay leaves give off the most gorgeous (and somewhat addictive, I should add) sweet-scented fragrant aroma. Lovely stuff.

Shake yourself out of your aromatic reverie, and grab your duck legs, plunge them in boiling water very briefly, dry them off, and load them onto the rack. They might not look very appealing at the moment, but stick with it. They will do soon, honest.

duck smoking 5

To avert almost certain disaster to you and your pan, cover the pan with more foil, and then put the lid over that.

duck smoking 6

You're on your way. Now all you have to do is wait anywhere between about 30 and 50 minutes, depending on the size of the legs.

At some point, of course, you're going to find it hard to resist peeking (Peking?) at the duck to make sure all's going swimmingly.

duck smoking 8

OK, yep, think it's plenty smokey in there, ta.


Just don't do that stage too often, ok?

Before long, you'll have fully smoked (and thoroughly cooked, for those of you who might be wondering) duck legs, hot off the rack:

duck smoking 7

No, I know they don't look wildly different from the pic taken at the start. But they are smoked and cooked, I promise. All you need to do now is to inject (not literally) a little colour into them, and some crispiness to the skin.

For this, you need to take your life into your hands again if you don't have a deep-fat fryer. For those of you who do, well, you've got it easy.

Alternative to deep-fat fryer: find pan. Fill with some kind of vegetable oil (not groundnut). Heat until very hot. Plunge your legs in. NO! Not those! The DUCK legs. Not yours. Jeez.

duck smoking 9

... and let them bubble away until they're a lovely golden brown.

At that point, all you have to do is drain them ....

duck smoking 10

... and they're ready to serve! Paul suggests an accompanying sauce based largely on hoisin. All I'll say at this point is I think I picked the wrong brand, because it was far too overwhelming for the duck. Next time round, I'll ask Paul first.

What I can say is that the duck was lovely - a tad overcooked for my taste, so I'll smoke for a shorter time next time, but beautifully fragrant and gently full of the flavour of the tea and other aromatics. Definitely a winner, and a recipe to play with again and again with variations on the theme.

(Just make sure you have lots of foil, and an airtight seal. If you don't, prepare to get friendly with your local fire brigade.)

For the full recipe, check it out on Paul's website. And have a good look around while you're there - you're bound to find lots of other stuff to tempt you.

And Paul? I owe you one. Thank you! It was a quacker!


Sylvie said...

That's some adventurous cooking, I'd say. If it was as good as the final result looked, it must have been delicious.

sarah Bell said...

Looks wonderful but think I'd better try smoking fish instead to try and shift the xmas pounds ;-)

Peter M said...

An ambitious but very successful and delicious cooking exercise. I'm going to dedicate an old wok for indoor smoking.

Nicely done and I'll hop over to Paul's site as well.

Bellini Valli said...

Love the technique used here. I am always looking for new methods and challenges.

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

I love duck and I love smoked stuff however there's not a cat in hell's chance of me making this as I get asthma on bonfire night and I'm scared of deep fat frying. Might be easier for me to just come and eat yours!

Johanna GGG said...

wow that looks brave - have never thought of smoking food at home (sounds illegal doesn't it) but while I would give the duck legs a miss I wonder if I could do this with tofu

Browners said...

Awesome stuff. I love smoked duck. I did something similar with duck breasts but rather than deep frying them finished them in the oven. We didn't get the crispy skin and juiciness that you've achieved. But still good anyway... and less dangerous.

Helen said...

lovely! I did a similar thing with breasts. I smoked them in a wok using earl grey tea. Lovely but worth further experimentation! I am craving some rich, smoked meat now. WANT!

LexEat! said...

Such an entertaining post! and so impressive too!

Nice work! Are you going cold turkey now?

Manggy said...

Oh dear, I'm on pun overload here, heh heh :) I can vouch for the steam-and-fry thing, it's a winning technique! Never smoked before, though. Maybe I can try it :) (no smoke detectors in the Philippines!)

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Sylvie - it felt adventurous! Haven't done anything quite like it before. Now keen to do it again asap...

sarah - heh. Fish would work well, I'm sure.

Peter M - an old wok would work very well. That's what Paul uses, actually. Good luck!

Val - do give it a try, and let me know how you get on

Sarah - I'm wary of deepfat frying, too, but it was painless. Had a damp teatowel at the ready, though!

Johanna - I'm sure you could do it with tofu. I've been hearing of people smoking tomatoes, so tofu must be perfectly doable.

Browners - I guess smoking's old hat to you, you pioneer of wacky cooking equipment + techniques, you! Good, though, innit? Do try deepfrying to finish next time around.

Helen - I think I'll go for breasts next time, as prob easier to get cooking time right

LexEat - oh, ha ha... ;)

Mark - go on, you know you want to... ;)

Sharmila said...

Haha, it sounds we've been doing something very very similar :-) Except you had much more luck than me in the non-smoking the house out stakes!

These look great.

scandilicious said...

Brilliant post Helen! Love the step-by-step photos, and I can well imagine how delicious this was as Paul has fantastic recipes (why he doesn't open his own restaurant is beyond me!!)

A great recipe to kick off 2010 with :-)

paul said...

What can I say! Thank you Helen for your lovely post and comments (not quite deserved, but welcome nonetheless :) )

The sichuan duck legs are a great favourite of mine, and great fun to cook as Helen says - please try, I'd love to know how it gos for others too.

Thanks Helen!

Foodycat said...

How gorgeous! I have done duck like this before but not for years - thank you for reminding me!

I'm going to visit Paul's site now too.

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Sharmila - lots of foil is key, I think, plus having a heavy + close-fitting lid...

Sig - we should start a campaign to get Paul to do just that...

Paul - I hope others try, too. Fun, something a bit different, and gets delicious results!

Foodycat - you're welcome. I'm sure you'll find other stuff on Paul's site you'll want to try

JT @ areyouhungary said...

Hey, I just found your blog. Nice work. Smoking duck is so impressive, so labour intensive! Will definitely be back to see more!

aforkfulofspaghetti said...

JT - hey, good to see you here, too! Do come back, and I'll try to keep you entertained... ;)

Anonymous said...

ohmy. I've added this to my favorites, I've been meaning to cook up some duck, just haven't. But I think this might be the one. Do you think that smoke method would work with salmon?

Chef Chuck said...

Yum, I can smell it from here!

Kevin said...

this look v cool. I supposed you could smoke anything like this. Always thought it was difficult as you need some kind of expensive smoker thing. I do worry about the pan though!

smoke plus smoking blend said...

Although I’m a big believer in CBT and talk therapy, it seems less able to work with young minds that still have a lot of maturing to do. That leaves medication, which is scary, but it still needs to be addressed.

Spice Rack said...

I really love to eat duck as long as it marinade and as long as it is soft. Once the duck is soft, you can now mix the different herbs and spices from your spice rack and pantry.

This duck looks so tasty.

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Mouth is watering. Thanks for the share.
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muebles said...

This can't work in reality, that's what I think.