These instructions come with thanks to the Meat Eating Military Man Blog. Del is generally in charge of the smoking, but his note taking is far less as detailed as this, which captures all the steps and the little details really well.
The recipe works just as well on wild and domestic ducks, so you don’t have to worry about looking for a specific type. However, if you’re buying your duck at a grocery store, you should be sure to avoid the ones that have been pumped with brine— the brine will lead to a duck that’s too salty.
Bigger ducks smoke better, but there’s no reason not to smoke a small one.
Duck is generally bolder and deeper in flavor than a turkey or a chicken, and they’re also fattier than most birds, making them perfect for smoking. Fatty meat retains the smoke flavor best, and ducks work great. Smoking the bird whole will give you a juicy, tender result, and taste better than cutting it beforehand. You want all those delicious juices to stay inside the bird while it cooks.
Most smokers have areas that cook faster than others, so it can help to rotate your racks halfway through the cooking process to make sure the bird is cooked through evenly. An overcooked duck will be dry and tough and shrink up, and no one wants that. Follow the times given in the recipe and check in periodically, and you should be just fine.
Another important (and fun) aspect of smoking meat is getting to pick out a wood that’s to your liking. Mesquite can have an overwhelming flavor ... given our proximity to the cherry orchard we always go with cherry wood -- heavenly!
This recipe is meant for a 5 pound duck, so if you decide to smoke a 2.5 pound duck, you should halve your ingredients. Remember that ducks have heavier bones than a lot of fowl, so you might think it sounds like more than it is if you’re just basing it on weight!
Cook Time 6 hours
Prep Time 7 days + 6 hours
3 tbsp Sugar
2 tsp Powdered Onion
2 tsp Poultry Seasoning
1 tsp Rubbed Sage
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Powdered Garlic
1 tsp Marjoram
1 tsp White Pepper
1 tsp Thyme
2 pieces Bay Leaves Cut into thin strips
Not everyone has poultry seasoning lying around, and some prefer to make their own, especially as it can often be cheaper! Here’s a recipe for homemade poultry seasoning.
2 tsp Ground Sage
1 1/2 tsp Ground Thyme
1 tsp Ground Marjoram
3/4 tsp Ground Rosemary
1/2 tsp Ground Black Pepper
1/2 tsp Nutmeg
For the poultry seasoning, all you do is mix all the ingredients thoroughly and store your seasoning in a clean spice bottle, tightly covered. You can make this seasoning beforehand, and then use 2 teaspoons of it in your cure.
The early prep takes place about a week before you plan to smoke your duck. First, you wash the duck (or ducks!) and remove any excess fat from the body, leaving the skin intact.
Pierce the thighs and breasts multiple times with a sharp fork. You should try to pierce the skin, but not the meat underneath. This helps release fat.
Mix the cure recipe together in a large bowl or container.
Then, rub the cure over the duck, both inside and out.
Cure the duck for six days in the refrigerator. While it’s curing, periodically continue to rub the cure over and inside the duck. This is to help ensure the cure will penetrate your duck and work as intended.
The secondary preparation takes place one day before you mean to smoke your duck. First, rinse your duck with cool water and then blot dry. It’s important that the duck be entirely dry by the time it is smoked.
Tip: If you feel you have the time for it, instead of entirely drying your duck off with towels, at this point you can place the duck on a wire rack in the refrigerator and let it air dry for 24 hours. If you have less time, you can blow dry the duck with a hairdryer on a low temperature. This gives you a crispier skin.
Crumple up newspaper, and then wrap the newspaper in paper towels. Stuff the duck’s body cavity with the newspaper-towel combo.
Wrap the duck with paper towels, and then wrap it again with newspaper. It’s like a paper turducken!
Place paper towel and newspaper under your wrapped duck to absorb any fluids.
Store your duck overnight in the refrigerator like this.
Smoking Your Duck
Remember to leave yourself plenty of time before you want to eat, as smoking a duck can take a long time - this recipe asks for your duck to be in the smoker at varying temperatures for seven hours. There are a variety of ways to smoke a duck, but for this recipe we’re going with hot smoking, which cooks faster than some of the other options, and is best for beginners.
Before smoking your duck, remove the newspaper and towels that you wrapped it in last night.
The next thing you should do is secure the duck with butcher’s twine, and either hang or place the duck into the smoker, with the breast facing down. If you can hang your duck, putting it on a sturdy hook with the tail facing upwards will allow the smoke to penetrate the body cavity more easily. If you don’t want to hang your duck, simply placing it in the smoker also works just fine!
You should first dry the duck out in the smoker for an hour at 140° F. This is done with no smoke, just heat, and removes any unpleasant sliminess or stickiness on the skin.
Now you can smoke your bird! Smoke the duck for around three hours (using your chosen wood!) at the lowest possible temperature for your smoker. If you want to, you can place a drip pan underneath your duck, and later brush the bird with the fat from the drip pan (or roast your potatoes in it).
After three hours, turn the temperature up to 150° F and smoke for three more hours.
After this, you can remove your duck from the smoker.