Hot-Smoked Duck Breast

Nick Sandler shows you how to create this popular deli favourite at home with the help of a smoker
Hot-Smoked Duck Breast
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4 as a starter
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: plus 24 hrs drying time
  • Effort: hard

Ingredients

  • 2 large duck breast

For the brine solution

  • 530 g salt
  • 2 litres water

To serve

  • beetroot
  • new potatoes
  • flat leaf parsley

Tips and Suggestions

Hot-smoked 'fresh' for an hour, the breasts make a delicious starter (served warm), or a classy ingredient for a cassoulet. The traditional technique of combination cold and hot smoking takes longer, but produces a superior result.

The larger the breasts, the better the end results. Duck may be smoked whole, but Nick prefers breasts for several reasons: you can fit more of them in the smoker, there will be less liquid fat to deal with, and the other parts of the duck can be put to better use, such as the legs and wings to make confit or rillettes, and the carcasses roasted as the basis for excellent stocks.

Vacuum-sealed, the smoked breasts will keep in the fridge for up to 8 weeks. If you merely store them in a sealed container, you should eat them within 7 days. They also freeze very well, like many smoked products, and will keep this way for up to 6 months.

Method

1. For the brine solution: combine salt and water in a non-metal container and stir until salt dissolves.

2. Using a fork, prick the breasts all over to assist brine penetration. Immerse the breasts in the brine solution for 2-3 hours, depending on their size, then remove.

3. Dry the breasts on a rack for 12-24 hours in your inactive smoker.

4. Cold-smoke them for 36 hours at 24-26C, giving them a little longer if it's cold outside and the temperature inside your smoker is rather lower. (This step can be omitted, if preferred, and you can move straight to Step 5.)

5. Hot-smoke the breasts for approximately 1 hour at 110C.

6. Serve thinly sliced in a salad of beetroot, new potatoes and flat-leaf parsley.

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