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Tea-Smoked Duck with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

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Tea-Smoked Duck is one of the glories of Chinese cuisine, and one of the few dishes from Asia that come smoked. In China, they smoke it in a wok. Here on Project Smoke, we had something bigger in mind. As in western barbecue, it begins with a rub.

In the West, we smoke with hardwood. The Chinese use an aromatic mixture of dry black tea, white rice, brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, fragrant orange peel and star anise. This is a spice from southern China, northern Vietnam that has a smokey licoricey flavor. I’m afraid this smokey mixture would get lost in a big smoker so I’m also going to add some cherrywood chips.

It’s smoked duck, but it’s a different sort of smoked than you get with American barbecue. Hoisin sauce is sweet and salty, and I love serving duck with the crunch of the cucumber. The duck is so succulent.

 

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Tea-Smoked Duck with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 2 to 3 as a main course
  • Method: Hot smoking/indirect grilling
  • Equipment: Pit Barrel Cooker; cherry wood plus Chinese smoking blend of black tea, rice, sugar, star anise and cinnamon (see recipe below)

Ingredients

  • 1 duck (5 to 6 pounds), thawed for 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator if frozen

For the rub:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

For the smoking mixture:

  • 2 cups cherry wood smoking chips
  • 1/2 cup white rice
  • 1/2 cup black tea
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 star anises
  • 3 strips tangerine or orange peel

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Wash the duck inside and out and blot dry.

Step 2: Make the rub: Combine the sugar, salt, pepper, five-spice powder, coriander, and cinnamon in small bowl and stir to mix. Season the front and main cavities of the duck with half the rub. Brush the outside of the duck all over with sesame oil. Sprinkle the outside of the duck all over with the remaining rub, rubbing it into the skin. Note: Usually, I don’t bother trussing the duck as you’ll get better absorption of the smoke flavor if the cavity is left open. But you can for a nicer presentation.

Step 3: Prick the skin of the duck all over with the tines of a sharp fork. (Do not pierce the meat.) This gives you crisper duck skin as the fat is channeled away.

Step 4: Make the smoking mixture: Place the wood chips, rice, tea, sugar, cinnamon sticks, star anises, and tangerine peel in a bowl and stir to mix.

Step 5: Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 300 degrees. Place the duck on the rack with a drip pan underneath it. Add half the smoking mixture to the fire or wood chamber. Smoke the duck to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, about 2 hours.

Step 6: Increase the smoker heat to 350 degrees (if possible). Brush the duck skin all over with fat from the drip pan or more sesame oil. Add the remaining cherry wood and smoking mixture and continue smoking until the skin is dark and crisp and the duck is cooked through, 175 to 180 degrees, another 1 to 1-1/2 hours. (The Chinese eat their duck well done.) There are two ways to test for doneness. Wiggle one of the drumsticks: the leg should move freely. Or check the internal temperature of the meat in the thickest part of the leg with an instant read meat thermometer.

Recipe Tips

Note: If your smoker does not allow for temperatures higher than 250 degrees, increase the cooking time by 30 minutes to 1 hour.

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