Monday, March 28, 2011

Tea-Smoked Duck Breast Salad with Black Pudding, Roasted Beetroot and Blueberry Vinaigrette

One piece of advice I would give anyone who wants to do more in their cooking, or to anyone who is thinking about competing in a show like Masterchef, is to find that which you don't know.  Find it, read about it and then do it.  Not only will you have a great time discovering, but you will increase your knowledge and your skill set, and turn yourself into a better cook.

Reaching out to other styles of cooking not only gives you new skills but it also allows you to enhance your own cooking style.  The more you understand about food the more you can incorporate fresh ideas into your tried and true recipes.

I like to try out something new at least once a fortnight.  I'd been reading a few websites looking for some recipe inspiration when I stumbled across a recipe for Tea-Smoked Duck breast.  Over the years I've seen people attempting this before and always wondered what does that taste like!?  The idea of a smoky tea flavor seems unusual but if people are still doing it then there must be something to it.  Right?  Well let's see.......

To try out this technique I decided to use the duck breast in a salad I've been making for a few years now, pairing up the strong flavor of the duck with earthy beetroot and black pudding and then topping it with a blueberry vinaigrette.  We all know duck goes well with fruit and this combination of gamey, earthy, sweet flavors works really well on the palette.  If you're not a fan of black pudding you can leave it out and still have a tasty salad.

And don't be worried, you don't need a smoker to do this.  As long as you have a large wok or a deep saucepan with a firmly fitting lid, you are in business.

Serves 2, Cooking and Prep Time 1 hour 10 minutes.


1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup brown sugar
50g of your favorite loose tea leaves.
2 duck breasts

200g Black Pudding, sliced into 2cm pieces
1 Beetroot
1/2 red onion sliced very thinly
2 Handfuls of salad leaves

250g Blueberries
1/4 cup red wine
1 Tbsp Sugar
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup EV olive Oil


My smoking contraption.  A wok, two ramekins, a spaceship worth of tin foil, and a lid.
  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
  • Place the beetroot onto a piece of tinfoil, drizzle over olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Wrap in the tinfoil and then place into the oven for 1 hour.
  • To make the blueberry vinaigrette place the washed blueberries into a small saucepan add the red wine and the red wine vinegar and sugar.  Cook on a low heat for about 10 minutes until the blueberries have softened and turned into a glossy, thick sauce.  Pass the sauce through a sieve to remove any lumps.  Gradually add the olive oil, whisking constantly to make the dressing.
  • To prepare the duck you first need to score the skin.  Using a sharp knife run the blade across the skin lightly, cutting the surface but not penetrating right through into the meat.  Do this about every 1cm and then turn the duck breast 90 degrees and repeat the process to create a criss cross pattern.
  • Line the pan you decide to use for smoking with 2 layers of tin foil.  Put the tea leaves, brown sugar and rice into the bottom of the pan and then place a wire rack in the pan.
  • If you don't have a wire rack that will fit in your pan you can come up with something else.  As long as you can place the duck breast on something so it is above the base of the pan and the smoke can permeate around it you'll be fine.  I wound up using a couple of ramekins turned upside down!
  • Season your duck breast and place into the pan skin side up.
  • Put the pan on a high heat.  When you start to see some smoke turn the heat right down.  Be warned, this can get very smoky, hence the need for a tight fitting lid and a well ventilated kitchen!  Perhaps you better warn the neighbors about this one..... 

Cancerous Canard (the smoked duck)

  • Leave to smoke away for about 15 minutes, then remove the duck breast.
  • We want to finish the breast by getting the skin nice and crispy.  Place the breast, skin side down, into a cold pan without any oil.  Cook on low heat for about five minutes until the skin is crispy.  Leave the duck to rest.
  • Using the same pan turn the heat up and then add the black pudding slices.  Cook until crispy.  You won't need any extra oil for this.
  • When the beetroot is finshed cooking remove from the oven and tinfoil then leave to cool for about five minutes.  Peel the skin of the beetroot then slice into nice chunky wedges.  Be warned this will stain your hands!!
  • To serve combine the salad leaves and the thinly sliced red onion, dress with some of the blueberry vinaigrette dot over the roasted beetroot and black pudding, top with the duck breast and then decorate with some more of the vinaigrette.

Then sit down in your smoky house with your beetroot stained red hands, wondering how on earth you are going to clean that wok and enjoy your carefully crafted dinner!


  1. So, was that fat rendered enough this time? I've totally been meaning to try tea-smoking for a while but dont think the boys will go for it so have left it on the back burner as it were!

    How about a taste report?

  2. Yep! Fair to say after doing 50 of them I'm getting quite good at it now :p The tea smoked flavor might be ok for the boys, but not sure on the strong flavor of the duck. The smoking is more a mild addition to the duck flavor than one that overtakes it.

  3. Just 50? I seem to remember a different figure.... ;)

  4. 50 with a few faliures...........hahahahaha.

  5. Nice trick,
    i din't have any baking rack tray and i guess i'll used my rametin too...