Step 1: Trim any tendons off the duck breasts with a sharp knife. Score the skin on each breast in a diamond pattern about 1/4 inch deep, taking care not to nick the flesh.
Step 2: Make the rub: Combine the salt, sugar, five-spice powder, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix. Generously sprinkle the rub on both sides of each duck breast. Drizzle with sesame oil, turning to coat both sides.
Step 3: Set up your smoker according to the manufacturer’s instructions, preferably using cherry wood. Preheat to 150 degrees. (If your smoker will go lower, that’s fine, too.)
Step 4: Arrange the duck breasts, skin side up, on the smoker rack(s) and smoke for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature of the breasts is 100 degrees when read on an instant-read meat thermometer.
Step 5: In the meantime, set up your grill for direct grilling and preheat to medium-high (400 to 450 degrees). Be sure to leave about 1/3 of the grill fire-free for a safety zone. (The fat in duck skin makes it prone to flare-ups.) Brush and oil the grill grate.
Step 6: Arrange the duck breasts on the grill grate skin side down. Sear until the skin is nicely browned and has begun to render its fat. (If flare-ups occur, move the meat to the safety zone). Cook, turning as needed with tongs, until the internal temperature of the breast is 130 to 135 degrees for medium-rare. (Higher if you prefer your duck cooked medium or medium-well.)
Step 7: Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 3 minutes. Thinly slice the duck breast on a diagonal and fan out on plates. Serve with the Fresh Cherry Salsa.
Our thanks to the sponsors of Project Smoke Season 3:
Steven Raichlen’s Project Smoke is a production of Maryland Public Television, Barbacoa, Inc., and Resolution Pictures. © 2017 Barbacoa, Inc.