Thursday, January 15, 2009
I had been thinking about doing a tea-smoked duck breast for a few years now, and finally worked up the courage to try it. Once I got started, I realized it is a lot easier than it sounds. Most of my hesitation came from the fact that I had never tried smoked meat and therefore was not sure what it was supposed to taste like... although really, what does that matter as long as it tastes good to me? Also, there was the worry that I would smoke out the condo and trip the fire alarm (not an unfounded fear, as my fire alarm goes off at the drop of a hat). In truth, there were absolutely no problems with this; happily, the smoke stayed entirely contained in the steamer leaving me with a deliciously fragrant and tender - and perfectly cooked - duck breast which I served with my version of the 4th and Vine salad.
Earl Grey Smoked Duck Breast:
2 duck breasts
4 tbsp earl grey tea leaves
4 tbsp long grain rice
4 tbsp brown sugar
star anise (optional)Score the fat on the duck breasts and rub it with salt - this will help the fat get crispy later. I find the thickness of fat on a duck breast a bit much if it hasn't had a chance to get crispy. Next, line the bottom of a wok with 2 layers of tin foil. Mix together the tea leaves, rice, brown sugar, and star anise and add to the wok. This amount should do 1-2 breasts (or possibly 3); if you're making more, just increase each ingredient in the smoke mixture in an even ratio.
Place the duck in a bamboo steamer or on a trivet in the wok & tightly cover with foil. I put a layer of foil over the duck before covering it with the steamer lid to ensure it was almost air-tight. The foil at the bottom should also be tight around the base of the steamer.
Over medium to medium-low heat smoke the duck for 12 minutes - this basically just means turn the heat on; as soon as the wok heats up the dry mixture will start smoking. Next, remove the wok from the heat and let it sit 5 minutes still covered, then place the duck fat-side down in a fry pan over medium heat for 5 minutes to crisp up the fat. When that is done, remove the duck breasts and set aside to rest for 5 minutes. With the large salad I had, 1 breast was enough for 2 servings.