Smoking or grilling duck is quite different from other poultry for a couple of reasons. To begin with, duck has a thick layer of fat under the skin that needs to be rendered during the cooking process. To cook the fat out of a duck, one of the best methods is slow roasting on the grill or smoker, allowing the fat to drip out and moisturize the meat as it cooks. Additionally, duck has very rich and flavorful dark meat, which is difficult to penetrate with marinades for flavor, so rubs and a finishing sauce are a beautiful way to achieve additional dimension to the meat.
My recipe for Chipotle Smoked Duck with Rhubarbecue Sauce is quite easy to follow on a smoker or grill if you keep a couple of things in mind. First, use a foil drip pan placed a rack below the bird. This will allow the fat to drain, but will catch the fat and prevent it from causing a grease fire or burning on the fire, causing bitter, nasty smoke that you do not want. Second, cook the duck over indirect heat – this will take a couple of hours to complete cooking and it’s imperative to render the fat properly without burning the bird or drying out the meat. Also, consider that domestic ducks and wild game ducks can be vastly different. Wild game (depending upon the species) can have rather gamey or pungent flavors, while domestically-raised duck is much sweeter and has been bred to have a milder tasting meat.
For a change from the bland white meat most people are used to cooking with fowl, this duck will blow you away with its natural flavors and will be enhanced by the smoke of the heat source, the mild spiciness of the rub and the tangy finish to the rhubarb-based barbecue sauce.
Chipotle Smoked Duck with Rhubarbecue Sauce
- 1 duck, split in half
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- Damon’s Chipotle Dust (below)
- Croix Valley Rhubarbecue Sauce
Damon’s Chipotle Dust:
- 1 cup Granulated Garlic
- ½ Cup Turbinado Sugar
- ½ Cup Black Pepper
- ¼ Cup Kosher Salt
- 3 Tbsp Paprika
- 1 Tbsp. Ground Chipotle
- ½ tsp. Cayenne Pepper
- Brush oil on duck and thoroughly coast in Chipotle Dust.
- Place duck, breast side up, on 250°-275°F smoker. Place foil pan or drip tray under duck to prevent grease fire.
- Smoke duck approximately 2 ½ - 4 hours, depending upon smoker type and temperature, until internal temperature reaches a minimum of at least 165°F.
- Once duck has reached desired doneness, brush with Rhubarbecue Sauce and let sauce set on the meat for at least 15 minutes before removal from smoker for serving. Let bird rest for 10 minutes before slicing.