Monday, July 27, 2009

Beer can duck!

Mmmmmmm, duck...
In my fifth post ever on this blog, I promised I was going to try a variation on the ol' beer can chicken recipe by using it to cook a duck that I had sitting around in my freezer. Well, I finally got around to trying it last night.

There were some execution issues with using this technique on a larger bird, but all in all it came out pretty well. I still think my favorite way of preparing duck is a braise, though... that is the only method I have found that sufficiently breaks down the fat enough for my tastes. This was still delicious, though, and I can definitely recommend it if you like roast duck.

I almost never use my charcoal grill, but I decided to go for it this time. For one thing, the burner layout on my gas grill is not good for indirect cooking. For another, I thought the smokiness might give it a nice flavor. Mostly, it was because I had bought a charcoal chimney a month or two ago and still hadn't gotten a chance to try it out.

I had been worried that the lid on my grill wasn't tall enough to accommodate a fully-upright duck, but this turned out to be irrelevant, as it also turns out that a beer can in its ass is not sufficient support to keep a duck fully-upright. As you can see in the
My jury-rigged system for propping up the duck
picture to the left, I had to kinda prop up the other end with a second beer can. Maybe a stick or skewer or something may have been better here. I dunno. Anyway, it worked.

I think what really made this duck delicious was the marinade I used. It was loosely inspired by Alton Brown's duck recipe. The amounts in the recipe below are very approximate, because I did one of those "little bit of this, little bit of that" things, but it should be fairly tolerant to variations. I was extremely pleased with the flavor it gave to the skin. Probably the wood chips I used didn't hurt either.

Recipe and more pics below the fold.

Beer Can Duck

  • 1/4 cup pineapple-orange juice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp whole mustard seed
  • 1 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • 5-6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • one 5-lb. duck
  • one or two cans of cheap beer
  • sweet wood chips, soaked in water (optional)

Combine first seven ingredients and place with duck in a large freezer bag. Let marinate in refridgerator for 4-8 hours. Remove duck from marinade and scrape off any peppercorns or cloves that cling to it (if a few mustard seeds stick to it, that's okay).

A charcoal grill set up for indirect cooking
Set grill up for indirect cooking: For a charcoal grill, get the coals going good and then pile them all up on one side. For a gas grill, turn on only half the burners. If you have an actual indirect barbecue, you're way ahead of me, I'm sure you can figure it out.

When grill is ready, chug a third of one beer and shove it in the duck's cavity. Place duck on the cool side of the grill. If duck won't stand up straight, chug half of another beer and use it to prop up the other end of the duck. If using wood chips, place them in a wood chip box, or however you do your wood chips, on the hot side of the grill. Cover grill. Check duck after 20-30 minutes and if it is cooking unevenly, turn it appropriately.

Cook until duck reaches desired doneness, about 1 hour for medium rare (internal temp of 150F) or about 1 1/2 hours for a more done duck (165-175F). Remove duck from grill, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 5-10 minutes before carving.

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