I have had my Bradley Smoker for 4+ years now. As I have smoked a wide range of items from cheese, butter, salt and eggs and occasional vegetable through to a wide variety of fish, shellfish and meat, I thought that it could no longer surprise me.
How wrong I was!
Duck has been on my list of things to do for a while. After doing a bit of research (past posts here on the forum, Keith Erlandson; Home Smoking and Curing), I got some advice from a commercial smokehouse that produces lovely smoked duck breast. Their suggestion was that duck benefits from being first cold smoked then hot smoked.
Additional Comments by Manximan: I didn’t know what to expect of this attempt but Wow! It has certainly made my top three lists of all time BS favorites. The reason I kept the brine and rub simple is to keep my options open for eating it. The best so far is with sweet chili dip!
I got some feedback from 6 people now on this recipe. Four say it is fine as it is, whilst a couple reckon it could do with less smoke, maybe 2 – 3 hours cold and an hour hot smoked.
Comment by Buckeye: Manxman – the photos looked great so I called a chef friend at a local restaurant and he sold me a dozen breasts. Followed your recipe through the brine stage but was rushed for time for the smoke. Anyway, smoked them with apple for a total of 3 hours. First hour at about 120 F, then gradually increased to around 200°F over the next 2 hours. Internal temp was 152°F (chef recommended 145°F, you said 160°F – compromised at 152 F). Cooled slightly and flash-fried as recommended (this is important, I think).
Results – by far the best thing to come out of the smoker yet (although I’ve only had it for a couple months). Passed a few out to the chef and his staff. Chef said it was the best duck he’s ever had and is going to buy a Bradley next week!
Thanks for the recipe – it’s a keeper!
Jeff in Ohio
- Duck breast
- 80° Brine (You can find the formula for 80° brine at the bottom of the document in the following link: Food Poisoning and Food Hygiene Part 2. For U.S. gallon use 2.22 pounds of salt – you can round off to 2.25 pounds)
- Crosshatch the duck breast skin, about half an inch apart. Make sure you do not cut into the meat.
- Gently prick the meat side a few times with a fork to help the brining process.
- Brine the duck breasts in 80° brine for 2 – 3 hours. The bigger the breasts the longer the brine period. (Sugar and spices are optional, I didn’t use any.)
- Take out, rinse well in water then pat dry with paper towel.
- Leave overnight on wire rack to dry out, minimum 12 hours. (I put mine in fridge on “warmest” setting.)
- Set BS up for cold smoking with the vent 90% open, and place duck breast fillets in smoker:
- Cold smoke for 4 hours (+/- depending on taste) using your choice of puck. I used oak.
- Take duck out of smoker and set up BS for hot smoking. For hot smoking, leave the vent 90% open, and bring the cabinet temperature up to 210°F.
- When setting up the smoker to hot smoke, make sure the “V” pan is positioned correctly. Place the meat carefully to ensure the significant amount of fat that runs off is channeled correctly into the water bowl. Duck fat is highly flammable !!!
- While cabinet is preheating, lightly rub a bit of sea salt and black pepper on the skin side of the duck breasts. (Optional, you can use other spices)
- Hot smoke the duck breasts skin side up for 1 hr 30 minutes (+/- depending on taste) with your choice of pucks. (I used oak)
- After applying the smoke, continue to cook. I cooked them to an internal temperature 160°F although USDA recommends 165°F. I was happy to cut it back a bit as I knew the source of my breasts and the way they had handled them.
- Heat up a metal skillet on the hob (stove top or range) to a medium high heat. Flash pan fry the duck breasts skin side down for 2 – 3 minutes. Approximately 20 ml fat came off per fillet, so discard excess fat between batches.
- Use kitchen towel (paper towel) to pat dry the breasts to absorb excess fat. Use firm but gentle pressure. When cooled a bit, wrap in cling film (plastic wrap) and put in fridge for 24 hours.
The main reason to wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours is personal preference. As IMHO I think most smoked food benefits from ageing for a while to let the full flavour develop. Wrapping tightly not only helps this but stops everything else in the fridge tasting of smoke. (naught wrong with that I hear you say!)
The best example is perhaps cheese, which needs up to a week to mature. But I think bacon is another good example. In other instances the benefit is minimal, but I tend to do it as a matter of habit.
I also noticed in the book I referred to, the author suggests not eating any smoked product until it has matured for at least 24 hours.
- Slice the duck breast into thin slices and vacuum seal.