- Joined Jan 15, 2019
Well, I learned quite a lot over the weekend with this little experiment! First and foremost, though, was that Pops' brine is the BOMB. :) This may have been the best tasting duck I have ever eaten, and I put most of that down to the brine. Even after fighting with the COS in high winds and cold and having to finish this little guy in the oven, I was very, very happy with the results! Meat was tender, juicy, not even remotely dry, and flavorful? Whoa. We snacked on quite a few pieces before I put the carved meat out of temptation's way so there'd be some left for vindaloo!
The finished vindaloo....
Now here's a quick rundown of what I did, for those who may be interested. :) I picked up this little guy on Friday morning at Harvey's (a butcher in Union Market in downtown DC). He had them on sale for $4.00/lb. which is pretty impressive for around here at least.
Almost 5 1/2 lbs., not too shabby! He plumped up quite a bit, too, after 24 hours in Pops' brine https://www.smokingmeatforums.com/threads/pops6927s-wet-curing-brine.110799/ I was out pretty early, and the duck thawed out pretty quickly, so I had it in the brine by mid-morning. I may have dropped a bunch of chicken thighs in some of that brine while I was at it, too... :)
Saturday was time for rubbing & glazing. First I made a big ol' mess with a bunch of spices.
Mr. Duck seemed to take well to managerial oversight. Figures; he *did* come from DC. :) I made a big batch of vindaloo-friendly spice rub...
I use a mortar & pestle, so there were a lot of nubbins that wouldn't get as fine as I liked, so I sifted it a few times to make a more powdery rub, then saved the extra stuff for making the syrup.
I rubbed the duck really well, then let him sit in the fridge all flapped out like that for a few hours so he could start drying out. Then I started painting him with the lacquering glaze, which I made from a bit of oyster sauce, some chicken stock, rice syrup, brown sugar, and the un-powdery spice blend... just boiled it until it reduced some, strained, and cooled it.
Then the annoying/mess part: paint to glaze, put it back in the fridge, wait half an hour, repeat. Over and over again. For hours! Eventually it was really sticky and thick and starting to feel pretty substantial. Left it alone then for about 12 hours to get as dry as it could.
I didn't get picture of it out on the smoker because it was a two hour fight with charcoal, leaks, wind, cold, and maybe a few choice words bandied about by yours truly. Thankfully, I had had the feeling that I was just NOT going to be able to get the smoker up to 225°...so I had hedged my bets by lighting about 1/3 load of apple pellets in my A-Maze-N maze. But 2 hours in, the IT in the leg was only 129° so I gave up and brought the bird in to finish in the oven. Turned on the convection fan and set the temp at 250° and it only took another hour or so for the breast to hit 135°. I cranked up the oven to 500° and let the skin crisp a little, but not too much -- at this point I just wanted the meat, I knew Justin would gobble up the skin even if it was rubbery (he's Asian; he'll eat anything like that, he says!) and I was just about over this whole endeavor!
After a good rest (for all concerned), he looked like this:
I was thrilled that there was at least *some* smoke flavor, and the brine really did make a difference as well, I'm sure. The spice rub imparted some, well, spice of course, but it was pretty much lost on us once we put the meat in the sauce. Tonight I'm going to make a sort of fried rice concoction with the leftover rice & bits of duck with some of the saag stirred in perhaps, as well.
All in all, I'd say it turned out delicious, though there are a lot of things I will do differently next time. Like, not do it on a day when the wind is 18+ mph and the temperatures dropped back in the 40's before wind chill! And honestly, I swear it would have been better if I had just gone ahead and smoked it in the regular grill with indirect heat... I'm going to have to really fiddle with this COS when the weather finally breaks!!
Thanks for looking!
PS: The chicken thighs that were done in Pops' brine went onto the grill Saturday night with some more of @bvbull's Pitface BBQ rub and were a huge success as well...