This duck recipe is best with puddle ducks (Mallards, Pintails, Gadwall, Teal, Wood Ducks) with skin on. However, if the ducks are taken care of, you can try others, and you can make it work with ducks without the skin/fat. You just may not want to cook them as long.
This so happened to be some late-season fatty mallards. It’s best to leave the skin and fat on the breasts, so be sure to pluck some of your birds next season! You can find a quick and easy plucking video on my YouTube Channel (@wildgamecook). Also, a friendly reminder to also keep the legs of your birds, they are tasty just the same, just need a different preparation. All you need is a smoker and some seasoning for this recipe.
These particular breasts were dry-aged in the garage for 2 weeks. It was very cold in late January that year. If it's not cold enough outside (hang ducks between 34-38 degrees) you can put them in your fridge just the same. After the breasts have properly drained and dried out a bit, you can either smoke them or put them in the freezer for a great off-season meal!
Total prep time: 5 minutes (not counting plucking or dry aging period)
Total cook time: 2-4 hours
Serves: depends on how many breasts you are smoking.
- Duck breasts (preferred with skin on)
- Seasoning (we recommend Camp Chef Citrus Herb seasoning; any steak seasoning works great too)
- Kosher Salt
- Pepper Jelly (We recommend Shaeff's HOT Pepper Jelly)
Once you have your breasts and they have dry aged for at least a couple of days, bring them out and sprinkle them with a little kosher salt on both sides. Let this set for about an hour if you have the time.
Then about 20 mins before smoking, season them with your Citrus Herb seasoning. If you are using a high salt content steak seasoning, go light on the seasoning, or just omit the kosher salt and season your breasts with the steak seasoning about an hour before smoking.
I like to put my Camp Chef smoker at its lowest setting, which is 160 degrees and crank the smoke setting to 10 for the first hour.
After the first hour, you can reduce the smoke setting to 1 for the remainder of the cook. It should take about 2.5-4 hours to get the fat rendered a bit. It's personal preference how long you let them.
Once they have some golden color to the skin, they should be good to go. You are wanting to ensure that the skin and fat are super tender, so it melts in your mouth.
After they are done, remove them from the smoker and allow them to rest for 5-10mins before serving. I suggest slicing it as thin as possible and serving it with sweet/hot pepper jelly. This helps balance out the smoke taste. You can also allow them to cool and then place them in the fridge and eat them cold. They make great party favors, blind snacks, and landowner gifts! We like to serve ours with rice. Enjoy!
--Wild Game Cook