Daryl Snow­don’s Smoked Wild Duck

Field and Game - - GET SMOKIN' -

Smoked duck is un­be­liev­able, if you haven’t tried it you must. While this recipe is a lit­tle com­pli­cated you can skip one or all of the steps, although I would rec­om­mend you still brine your ducks. There is noth­ing stop­ping you brin­ing your wholes birds and them skip­ping the bon­ing and stuff­ing and just smok­ing your whole ducks. For the recipe I went the whole nine yards, brined, boned, stuffed and then smoked, the re­sult, mag­nif­i­cent.

In­gre­di­ents for 2 ducks

• Brine • 4 litres of wa­ter • 1 cup salt • 1 cup brown sugar • 5 cloves gar­lic • 1 tbsp pep­per­corns • ¼ cup vine­gar • 1 tbsp dried rose­mary • 1 tbsp thyme • Stuff­ing • 500 g pork shoul­der (or pork mince) • Fresh thyme • 1 tsp Salt • Pep­per • Smok­ing: • Hand­ful of cherry chips (soaked in wa­ter)

Brine

If you choose to brine your duck be­fore smok­ing you will not re­gret it! I rec­om­mend you brine all birds, chicken, turkey, ducks, as it really helps to re­tain mois­ture. This is a fancy brine that does add flavour to the ducks, you can skip the fancy stuff and just use wa­ter, salt and sugar. The salt helps re­tain mois­ture while the sugar will help brown the out­side of the ducks.

In a large saucepan, com­bine wa­ter, salt, brown sugar, gar­lic, pep­per­corns, vine­gar, rose­mary, and thyme. Mix over low heat un­til com­bined and sugar is dis­solved. Cool by plac­ing in re­frig­er­a­tor. Place ducks in brine so that it is com­pletely cov­ered and place in the fridge for four to six hours. Re­move ducks from brine, rinse and al­low to dry be­fore the next step.

Bon­ing

This is not as hard as many think, if you haven’t tried it, give it a go. Place the duck, breast side down, on a board with the neck end away from you. Us­ing a small knife, make a cut through the skin, down the mid­dle of the spine, from the neck to tail. I usu­ally cut out the par­son’s nose when I clean my ducks, but if you don’t, make a cut on ei­ther side of the par­son’s nose.

Start to re­lease the skin and meat from the car­cass from the neck end, work­ing your way down the length of the duck. It is im­por­tant to work your knife on the out­side of the shoul­der blade near the wing end of the duck and to re­lease and re­tain the oys­ter with the skin. The ob­jec­tive is to re­move the skin and meat in­tact from the car­cass.

As the skin and meat con­tinue to be re­leased, the thigh and wing joints will be ex­posed. Cut through the wing joint care­fully, with­out cut­ting through the skin on the un­der­side. Place your fin­gers un­der the thigh and thumb on top of it and pull the thigh back­wards to ‘pop’ the joint, then re­lease the joint with the knife.

Con­tinue work­ing down the side of the duck, re­leas­ing the meat.

Cut the breast meat away from the wish­bone at the wing end and con­tinue cut­ting un­til the breast is re­leased from the breast plate. Work your knife down the length of the breast bone. By now the whole of one side of the duck should be re­leased from the car­cass. Turn the duck around and re­peat on the other side.

When the sec­ond side is re­leased hold the duck car­cass up and care­fully re­lease the skin and meat by care­fully cut­ting along the breast plate. The knife must be kept as close to the bone and car­ti­lage as pos­si­ble to avoid cut­ting through the skin. The duck will fall away, put the car­cass aside.

Stuff­ing

For this recipe I used minced pork belly. If you don’t have a min­cer you can use ei­ther pork mince (adding a tsp of salt for ev­ery kg) or the fill­ing from pork sausages. Lay the boned-out duck on a board Cover in a layer of your stuff­ing mix­ture, I use about 2.5 cm (1 inch), but just roll the duck up a few times un­til it looks like a duck again.

Sprin­kle with thyme (or what­ever you have avail­able) and pep­per.

Roll the duck back up and shape it un­til it looks like a whole bird again.

Tie with cook­ing string in 4–5 places, try to seal the duck up as best as pos­si­ble to keep all of that good­ness in there.

Cook­ing

How you place your duck in the smoker doesn’t really mat­ter, I usu­ally smoke them breast up. You will need a drip pan un­der the birds if you are us­ing a gas smoker, as they will drip fat, if you’re us­ing a Web­ber, Smokey Moun­tain or sim­i­lar the fat will just drip into the wa­ter tray.

Re­mem­ber when smok­ing ducks, less is more, don’t over smoke them. A hand­ful of cherry chips (ap­ple also works well) should be enough to get a great smoky flavour.

Smoke your ducks at 120°C for 2–3 hours, I al­ways use a dig­i­tal ther­mome­ter and I like them to be at about 70°C.

If you like a crispy skin you can place the ducks into a hot oven for ap­prox. 5 min­utes at 250°C, this will crisp up the skin and give them a lovely dark colour.

Now it’s time to carve them and en­joy with your favourite side dishes, we love them with baked berlotti beans with cheese and leeks, pota­toes and coleslaw, en­joy!

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