After the success of the beer can chicken, I was keen to use the method again but this time with a duck and some cherry beer. As far as I know, cherry beer doesn’t come in cans so I bought a bottle and just tipped it into a regular beer can (king size Stella cans so I could get more beer in – credit to Chris for that idea).
I think I’ve got the BBQ ‘indirect cooking’ method pretty much down now – it basically involves moving the hot coals to the sides of the BBQ and using a roasting tray to catch the fat. The lid needs to be on to get the heat circulating. My two major concerns were ensuring that the drip tray was deep enough (as a duck is so fatty) and also taking steps to get maximum crispiness of skin. Twitter is always useful in these situations and some great advice came from @justcookit who advised scoring and salting heavily an hour or so before, then dusting off and salting again, to draw some moisture out.
The next question was what to serve it with. I didn’t want anything hot as the weather is too glorious. Again, Twitter to the rescue and a joint effort between @SimonMajumdar and @theboydonefood produced the idea of a fruity slaw of red cabbage, raisins and orange zest. Simon suggested using smetana, which I had to google and could probably have sourced in the Polish deli nearby but I was strapped for time and so subsituted sour cream. It worked well. I fancied a handful of sour cherries to continue the cherry-duck theme but couldn’t find any so a packet of cranberries lurking at the back of the cupboard it was and a fine slaw was born.
As the time came to eat the duck, the lid was lifted to a chorus of oohs and aahs (yes two people can make a chorus) – the skin all over the bird was beautifully crisp. We rejoiced. The bird was removed, covered with foil and left to rest. Ten minutes passed and then, a moment of horrible realisation. I’d set the bird to rest breast down…the crispy skin – noooo! I’m sad to report that yes, a teensy bit of crispness had been lost but…I’m over it. A little bit. The fat overall was just – wow. Duck takes on smoke like a dream. The meat was a bit overcooked but still blushing, incredibly moist and I detected, I think, a slight hint of fruit.
The slaw worked well, cutting through the richness of the duck but I think next time I’ll make some kind of cherry chutney affair to boost the cherry flavour a bit. Overall though, I declare the venture a resounding success – apart from one little drunken fail in the middle. Must remember not to steam myself in cherry beer as well as the bird next time…
The beer can method is here. Remember to score and salt the duck for an hour before cooking and of course, rest it breast side up.