Duck can be such a delicious bird, especially with a nice crispy skin. People used to complain that duck was too greasy, but I rarely see that anymore as most places know how to cook it properly, as well as they obtain quality duck.
Tea smoked duck can be especially interesting and Executive Chef Jason Bond of the Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro has created such a dish, Hu Kwa Cured Duck Magret.
Hu Kwa is a smoked Chinese tea that is even linked to the history of Beacon Hill for over a century. If you were invited to tea at a respectable home, your hosts most likely offered you Hu Kwa tea and a simple sweet bread or cake. The Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro also has a tradition of smoked duck. So, Chef Bond wanted to unite these two items. He stated: “This recipe combines these two ideas or traditions in a tea cure for the duck which firms the meat and tenderizes it giving it a crisp mahogany skin.” You can order it at his restaurant or try to make it yourself.
Hu Kwa Cured Duck Magret (Makes four servings)
4 duck breasts, on the bone (two whole ducks)
2 ounces Hu Kwa tea
2 ounces black peppercorns
2 ounces sugar
1 pound kosher salt
Directions: Place the tea, pepper, and sugar in a blender and blend to a powder. Mix with the salt. Cover the duck breasts completely with the mixture and wrap tightly in plastic film. Let stand for 3 to 4 hours. Rinse the breasts and pat dry. Let dry on a rack until ready to cook. To cook, place skin-side down in a dry cast iron pan over low heat. Let the fat render slowly. It should take at least half an hour before the skin starts to color and turn crisp. Once you have a crisp skin, flip over and cook for five minutes more on the other side. Let rest for ten minutes and then carve off the bone to serve. Save the fat you have collected and decant it, so as to have clear pure fat.
The restaurant serves this with Pumpkin Risotto and Porcini Mushrooms.
8 perfect fresh porcini mushrooms
1 Long Island Cheese Pumpkin (you will use about ¼ of it)
¼ pound butter
1 cup arborio rice (or other risotto variety)
1 cup dry Riesling
sea salt and a pepper mill
1 cup grated Parmigianino
1 quart chicken stock
1 cup whipped cream (not sweetened)
Directions: Trim and halve the porcini. Save any scrap and add it to your chicken stock. Peel and seed the pumpkin. Cut 1 quart of small dice. Finely chop the scrap from this (save the rest of the squash for pie, or soup, or roasting…). Finley dice the onion. Cook the fine pumpkin, onion, and salt and pepper in the ¼ pound of the butter until soft. Add the rice and cook for a further five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the wine and let absorb. Add the chicken stock a couple ounces at a time, stirring. Once the rice is cooked, but with a slight bite left to it, add the Parmigianino and stir to melt. Check the seasoning and let rest two minutes while you carve your duck. While the risotto is cooking, Warm ½ cup duck fat in a large cast iron pan. I use the ducks’ cooking pan while they are resting. Add the porcini and the pumpkin dice and cook until soft and nicely browned. Salt and pepper, and add a little chicken stock just to finish.
To serve, fold the whipped cream into your risotto, just enough to lighten the texture. You probably won’t use it all. Spoon the risotto into the center of each serving plate. Place your pan-roasted porcini and pumpkin on top. Slice and fan one duck breast over all. Spoon any left over mushroom juice over the ducks.