To say this is a dish of thinly-sliced smoked duck is an understatement. The ducks are rubbed with butter spiced with things like cumin and coriander and curry, stuffed with savory vegetables and fruit, and marinated in apple cider for 24 hours before they even reach the smoker. Garlic cloves are smoked with the ducks and used both in a sauce redolent of ginger, cinnamon, and cloves and as a garnish. The dish can be prepared with fewer ducks as long as everything is adjusted accordingly. The fewer ducks smoked, however, the greater the heat intensity will be per duck. For slower, more even smoking and better end results, Chef Buster recommends using 4 ducks.
- Spiced Butter
- Soft unsalted butter - 2 pounds, at room temperature
- Whole Shallots - 2, minced
- Garlic Cloves - 6 to 8, minced
- Parsley - 1 tablespoon, chopped
- Black peppercorns - 1 , crushed
- Salt - 2 teaspoons
- Chili powder - 1 teaspoon
- Oregano - 1/2 teaspoon
- Ground Cumin - 1/2 teaspoon
- Ground Coriander - 1/4 teaspoon
- Curry powder - 1 teaspoon
- Dried Basil - 1 teaspoon
- Few dashes each of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces
- Marinade and Duck
- Ducks - 4, 4 to 4-1/2 pounds each
- Celery - 2 cups, chopped
- Onions - 2 cups, chopped
- Carrots - 2 cups, chopped
- Tart Apples - 2 cups, chopped, unpeeled
- Oranges - 2 cups, chopped, unpeeled
- Parsley - 1 large, bunch, chopped
- Apple Cider - 1 gallon
- Garlic - 4 whole heads
- Corn oil
- Smoked Garlic Sauce
- Smoking Juices - 4 cups (add reserved marinade to equal 4 cups of liquid if necessary)
- Smoked Garlic Cloves - 2 ounces, peeled and pureed
- Ground ginger - 1/8 teaspoon
- Ground cinnamon - 1/4 teaspoon
- Pinch of ground cloves
- Bay Leaves - 2
- Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
- Freshly ground white pepper - 1/4 teaspoon
- Currant Jelly - 1 cup
- Port Wine - 2/3 cup
- Cornstarch - 2 to 3 tablespoons
To make the spiced butter: Blend all the ingredients in a food processor until well incorporated. Reserve at room temperature.
To prepare the marinade and duck: Generously rub the inside and outside of the ducks with some of the spiced butter. Mix the celery, onions, carrots, apples, oranges, and parsley. Pack the cavity of each duck with this mixture. Using the remaining spiced butter, place a large dollop inside each. Stand the ducks tail-end up in a stainless or plastic container (a large bucket works well) and pour cider over them. Add weight if necessary to keep the ducks submerged in the marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for 16 to 24 hours. Reserve the marinade.
Preheat a smoker to the low-to-medium range following manufacturer’s suggestions. Arrange some water-soaked hickory, mesquite, or osage orange wood chips over lava rocks (for more even heat distribution). Place a drip pan in position and fill two-thirds full with some of the reserved marinating liquid. Position the ducks on a rack above the drip pan, breast-side out and tail end up. Dip whole heads of garlic in corn oil and place in the center of the rack with the ducks.
Smoke for approximately 2-1/2 hours to medium rare; after 30 minutes turn the ducks so the breasts face in. It may be necessary to rotate the ducks during smoking if the smoker has “hot spots.” Remove the ducks and hold in a warm place. Remove and peel the garlic cloves. Reserve the juice in the drip pan for the sauce.
To make the sauce: Allow the smoking juices to settle; skim and reserve the fat. Strain juices through a strainer lined with a wet cloth. Put the strained juices in a saucepan and add remaining ingredients through the currant jelly. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes, then thicken with a mixture of port and cornstarch.
Saute the remaining smoked garlic cloves in the reserved fat until golden brown. Strain the fat off the garlic. Remove the stuffing and debone the ducks; reserve the stuffing and the carcasses. Thinly slice the duck breasts, rewarming in sauce if necessary.
Arrange the sliced duck breast on a serving plate. Spoon sauce over and around the slices; garnish with sauteed garlic cloves.
The remaining marinade and strained drippings, along with the duck carcasses and stuffing, can be simmered to make stock. The leg meat can be used for warm duck salad or soup.