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Crisp Tea-Smoked Duck with Green Mango and Basil Salad

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Serves four.

  • by Robert Danhi from Fine Cooking
    Issue 106

Searing the duck breasts in a skillet after smoking gives them delicious crisp skin. You can substitute apples, plums, or peaches for the mangos.

Extra: To learn more, watch a video series where Robert Danhi demonstrates his tea-smoking technique.

For the pan-roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
For the tea-smoked duck
  • 1 medium orange
  • 1/4 cup whole-leaf lychee tea
  • 1/4 cup rice, preferably jasmine
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large or 4 small boneless duck breasts (about 2 lb. total )
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mango-basil salad
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lime juice; more as needed
  • 1 Tbs. fish sauce
  • 1 medium clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 red serrano chile (or other small hot red chile), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1 Tbs. light brown palm sugar (or light brown sugar); more as needed
  • 2 large unripe mangos, peeled and cut into 1/8 -inch-thick slices
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped basil, preferably Thai or Asian basil
  • Kosher salt
Roast the peanuts

Cook the peanuts in an 8-inch skillet over low heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Coarsely chop the peanuts. Set aside.

Smoke the duck

Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the orange in 1x2-inch strips, avoiding as much of the white pith as possible. Reserve the orange for another use. Put the orange zest, tea, rice, and sugar in the center of a sheet of heavy-duty aluminum foil. (If using thinner foil, use 2 or 3 layers.) Fold the foil loosely to form a flat packet.

Prepare a medium-high gas or charcoal grill fire. Clean and oil the grill grate; set aside. Set the tea-smoking packet directly on the hot coals or on top of a metal burner shield. Put the grate back on the grill and close the lid. On a charcoal grill, leave the vents partially open and wait for smoke to rise from the vents. On a gas grill, wait 10 minutes, then open the lid to check for smoke. If there is none, close the lid and check again in a few minutes.

Meanwhile, with a sharp knife, trim any silver-skin from the duck breasts and score the skin in a diamond pattern without cutting all the way through to the meat. Pat dry with paper towels and season generously all over with salt and pepper.

Arrange the breasts skin side up on the grill grate so they’re not directly over the packet, and then close the lid. Smoke the duck until the skin turns an uneven amber-brown color on the edges, 15 to 17 minutes (the skin side will still be uncooked). Remove from the grill.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat, add the smoked duck breasts skin side down and cook slowly, undisturbed, until some fat renders, the skin gets deep brown and crisp, and the breasts are cooked to medium-rare or medium doneness (an instant-read thermometer inserted into a breast should read 135°F to 140°F), 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board skin side up and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly.

Make the salad

In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, shallot, chile, and sugar. Add the mangos and basil and gently toss to coat. Season to taste with lime juice, sugar, and salt (the riper the mango, the less sugar and the more lime juice you’ll need).

Divide and arrange the salad and then the duck on 4 plates; sprinkle with the peanuts.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 340; Fat (g): 15; Fat Calories (kcal): 140; Saturated Fat (g): 3.5; Protein (g): 27; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 8; Carbohydrates (g): 25; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3; Sodium (mg): 850; Cholesterol (mg): 135; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Romulo Yanes

Great recipe. The smokiness really comes through and finishing the duck in the pan gives a nice crispy skin. The mango basil salad was the perfect compliment to the duck. We may try to adapt this one for an hors d'oeuvre, possibly on a sweet potato chip, for our Christmas party.

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