Earl Grey and Lavender Smoked Duck

So, we have two lavender recipes in a row – which is what can happen if you have a big bunch of delicious smelling lavender hanging around your flat, constantly triggering your food-obsessed brain off in all kinds of directions. After making the lamb, I put the remaining stems on my desk as a soothing scent to guide me through exam-hell but instead, I came up with this recipe.

I’ve been meaning to have a go at smoking duck with earl grey tea for ages as I love the flavour of bergamot and so Chris and I fashioned a steamer from a roasting tray, a cooling rack and some tin foil. I threw in some lemon zest and lavender stems and it came together really well, producing the most delicately perfumed, succulent duck. Thankfully, the lavender and bergamot were still discernible but not overpowering, a total fluke on my part as I had no idea of the right quantities.

With the smoked duck in mind, we took a trip to our local Chinese supermarket yesterday where I also spotted they sell fresh durian fruit. I’ve seen them frozen here before but never fresh. After reading Pim’s post recently, I’ve become more interested and very slightly less scared about trying one. I don’t have the nerve yet and so, apart from stocking up on kaffir lime and curry leaves, we picked up some rice wrappers to make some pancake rolls with strips of crispy spring onion, cucumber and soft, sweet mango. We dunked them in a dipping sauce of soy, rice wine vinegar, honey, chilli flakes and coriander with a touch of sesame oil.

The duck rolls were perfect for the sunny weather we had yesterday. Today, it’s raining again but that’s ok as my urban kitchen garden is getting a good soaking.There is something about growing your own food when you have limited space that is really satisfying. Here’s a couple of work in progress shots. You can see that the bay tree has sprung into action and the tomatoes are unstoppable!

We’re also growing potatoes, two plants, in a grow bag I cut into two and stood on it’s ends. If anyone tells you it’s not possible to grow potatoes on a balcony, they are wrong. Of course, I’ll probably only get a few meals but I’m still proud.

Earl Grey and Lavender Smoked Duck

2 duck breasts
A generous grind of black pepper
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 star anise
The zest of 1 lemon
25g earl grey tea leaves
4oz golden caster sugar
A few sprigs of lavender, I used dried and stripped the flowers from the stems to yield about a heaped tablespoon
Rice wrappers
Your choice of fillings – we used mango, cucumber, spring onions and coriander leaves.

Preheat the oven to Gas6/200C/400F

– Score the fat of the duck in a criss-cross pattern, taking care not to slice through the meat. Mix together the salt, pepper, ginger and star anise, spread over the duck and allow to marinate for a couple of hours if possible.
– If you have a wok with a lid and a rack that sits inside, double line the bottom with heavy duty foil and do the same for the lid, leaving an overhang at the edges so that you can seal it tightly during cooking.
– Mix together the tea leaves, lavender, lemon zest and sugar and sprinkle over the bottom of the wok in an even layer. Set the rack inside, put the duck on it and heat on medium until wisps of smoke start to appear.
– Reduce the heat to low, add the lid and seal tightly, crimping the foil together like a pasty around the edges.
– Smoke for 10 minutes. Towards the end of this time, begin heating an oven proof frying pan or skillet. When the 10 minutes are up, remove the duck from the wok and put into the frying pan, rendering the fat down for about 5 minutes or so until golden brown and crispy.
– Put the duck in the oven, skin side up, for 5 minutes then remove and allow to cool to room temperature. Slice and serve with your chosen fillings.

If your wok does not have a rack, like ours, use something like a roasting tin with a cooling rack inside it and then make a domed lid using foil.

Category: Barbecue, Flowers, Fruit, Garden, Gluten-free, Main Dishes, Meat, Starters, Vegetables 29 comments »

29 Responses to “Earl Grey and Lavender Smoked Duck”

  1. katie

    What a gorgeous looking magret de canard!
    I never would have paired lavender with smoked duck… but, as I happen to have some, I must give this a try.
    Mon mari will have to use the big smoker, of course (a manly smoker), but I think it should work wonderfully!

  2. Peter

    Is it duck season? Who cares…nicely done and rare.

  3. Helen

    Katie – Thanks! I would love to have a proper smoker! PLease let me know how it turns out!

    Peter – Well spotted! No, it isn’t duck season but sometimes, a girl’s just gotta have it,

  4. Julia

    Wow, what an amazing dish. I’ve now got a lavendar plant in my garden and have been thinking about cooking with it – I never have before.

    Your plants look great, you should be proud! I’m so envious of your bay plant, fresh bay always seems hard to get hold of. I wonder if you can grow one in a pot?

  5. Helen

    Julia – Thank you. I am happy with the plants. The bay tree is growing in a pot! It can be done, my mum also grows hers in a pot and that has been going for years. I got mine from The Real Food Festival but uou can buy them online fairly easily I think.

  6. Peter G

    Another very creative dish Helen. Mmmmm..the bergamont and lavender sound like a delightful combination. Love the garden…it looks like its really fruitful.

  7. nina

    I looked at this meal and I thought – I will nibble on this before I even sit down for the meal. It looks utterly delicious!

  8. Lizzie

    I picked up a few reduced price duck breasts from the supermarket yesterday and wondered what to do with them – this sounds perfect!

    As for Durian… it’s a bit like marmite, you either love it or hate it. I really can’t bear it – too many tram rides in high summer in hong kong sitting next to someone carrying some – but my mum and sister love it. I do believe it’s even banned on public transport in Singapore! If you want to try it it’s best to buy the already cut fruit, as it’s a right palaver to cut through the shell yourself.

  9. Maryann

    Helen, I have yet to try a dish with lavender. Your duck looks wonderful :)

  10. Helen

    Peter G – Thanks, it worked really well, surprisingly well! The garden is like my little pride and joy at the moment too, I am out there every day inspecting how things are coming along!
    Nina – I did!
    Lizzie – Thanks for the durian info – you sound like an expert! I have heard that it is banned on public transport in some places also. Thanks for the tip about getting the cut fruit too, excellent inside info!
    Maryann – I urge you to try it, I am addicted….

  11. Jeanne

    Oh wow, how wonderful that looks! A bunch of the London food bloggers got together last year and made tea-soked duck breasts – I think we used some sort of fragrant tea, toasted rice, cinnamon and citrus to smoke ours but the flavour was very subtle. I love the sound of your robustly flavoured bergamot & lavender! Also v. impressed with the container veg garden! Living in a rented house, we can’t really justify spending the money on carting soil into our garden, which is a foot of pure clay laid lovingly on top of building rubble ( I am not kidding!!). We have grown strawberries and tomatoes before in pots before – but we have terrible trouble with blackfly and greenfly. Any tips on how to keep them off your tomatoes without also poisoning yourself? This year I am giving butternuts a bash – will tell you how that turns out.

  12. Helen

    Hi Jeanne – How wonderful to meet up with other food bloggers! i really like the idea of putting cinnamon in there, yum. I understand what you mean about the rented accomodation issue, we rent too which is why I use so many pots. I think the reason I don’t have so many green and black fly is because the plants are quite sheltered in that the balcony has bamboo screening around it and we are on the first floor. We do get black and green fly on there and to be honest, I pick them off with my fingers! If you had lots though, that’s going to be a bit gross. Butternuts sound like a fabulous thing to grow though, I’ve never had the space to try them. Please do let me know how they turn out.

  13. jj

    Looks wonderful – everything. I’ve been wanting to try my hand at growing lavender too and think I’ll get out and get started today, thanks for the inspiration!

  14. radish

    Just wanted to let you know, that your blog has become a favorite of mine and a huge inspiration – your recipes are incredibly mouth-watering and inventing – if i can locate some good duck and lavender, i would really like to make this — wonderful combination!!

  15. Helen

    jj – Thank you. You should give it a go, it’s so easy to grow and it has the advantage of tasting good!
    Radish – I can’t believe it, what a compliment from one of my favourite blogs. Thank you for your lovely comment – here’s to mutual appreciation!

  16. JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen

    This looks truly awesome Helen! Can I come over for dinner???
    And I love your garden – I really need to get a handle first on the WEIRD growing season here in FL – and then I am gonna try a stab at veggies – but right now I can even get herbs to grow…and I thought it’d be easy here in the SUNSHINE state! Argh!

  17. Helen

    Jenn – Yes, of course! You and Roberto would be welcome any time. That is so weird about Florida, I would have thought everything would just grow at an unstoppable rate! How bizarre, not even herbs? Which ones have you tried? Some of them can be tricksy, the soft ones particularly like basil and parsley, they are fussy. It might be too sunny maybe? Who knows!

  18. aforkfulofspaghetti

    What a great experiment! Onwards and upwards, fortune favours the brave, and all that…

  19. Fearless Kitchen

    Mmmm…. smoked duck…. I’d wanted to do a tea-smoked duck for a while, and the Spouse (as always) is very keen to use the smoker. The addition of the lavender is simply brilliant.

  20. Kevin

    That smoked duck looks good! I have not tried cooking duck yet and I have not used lavender either. I will have to get to it.

  21. myfrenchkitchen

    You sure know how to cook duck…succulent, and once again..such a beautiful photo!

  22. JennDZ_The LeftoverQueen

    I am gonna hold you to it! ;)
    Yeah, I think that it is just too sunny or something…I have basil, lavender, and rosemary – that have been sprouts for AGES. Now I am trying catnip for Nimue and it is doing better than all of them – but I want tomatoes!

  23. manju

    Just love what you’re doing with the lavender—first lamb, then duck, both delish! I’ve still got my eye out looking for asparagus to try that carpaccio idea, too.

    Good luck with the durian sampling. We finally screwed up enough guts to try it in Bali and did not fall immediately in love — someone told us later that it was b/c we bought only a cut piece and that the flavor quickly dissipates once it’s cut. She advised always buy it whole and cut when you’re ready to eat, but durian is much too big tor us two so we haven’t tried it again since. Maybe we’ll have to throw a durian feasting party — please come!

  24. Simply...Gluten-free

    My husband will LOVE this!

  25. Jeanne

    Me again

    Sorry – I posted the previous comment on your asparagus post before I read your response to me here :) The problem with the sunny side of our garden where I grow everything in pots is that there is an overhanging wild cherry tree from the neigbhbours’ garden. Now I love the tree, but the ends of the high branches get infested with blackfly every year and we get LOTS raining down on our poor plants. With the ornamentals I just bite the bullet and spray – otherwise I would have no roses, poppies or nastutriums, they simply destroy them. So I guess the search for a non-toxic (and non-manual!) extermination method continues…

    Butternut seedlings going great guns and got planted out into their big pot this weekend. Will let you know if I have any success, or if they take over my entire garden!!

  26. maybelles mom

    Oh, so lovely.

  27. Jason G

    Why not sear and cook the breast first, and then smoke?

  28. Helen

    Jason – Yeah, I don’t know why I didn’t to be honest. This was quite a long time ago so I have no recollection of whatever my crazy reasoning was at the time. Doesn’t seem to make much sense now.

  29. Becky Tucker

    Wow, this sounds great. I had a go at Smoking Duck myself: http://culinaryrevelations.blogspot.co.uk/
    Need to give this recipe a try now, I love the idea of the lavender!

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