This tea-smoked duck is a delicious modern take on traditional Chinese cuisine. Smoked with tea leaves, rice, aromatic spices and paired with a sweet and salty BBQ sauce, this Asian inspired dish makes for a flavorful dinner. Pair that with grilled acorn squash using a salt slab is a simple and fun cooking method that is guaranteed to bring out amazing flavors. A combination of nuts, dried cranberries, cheese, and bacon are then loaded into this delicious fall vegetable to create a sweet, savory, and colorful side dish.
Tea-smoked Duck with Squash & Hoisin BBQ Sauce & Squash
Time to Prepare
Estimated Cook Time
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 cups cherry wood smoking chips
- 1/2 cup white rice
- 1/2 cup black tea
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 3 star anises
- 3 strips tangerine or orange peel
- Hoisin Barbecue Sauce (recipe below)
Hoisin Barbecue Sauce (makes about 1 1/4 cups)
- 3/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
Salt Slab Squash
- 2 Acorn Squashes
- 2 strips bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slivers
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1 cup pecan pieces
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup coarsely grated white cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup real maple syrup, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Make the rub: Combine the sugar, salt, pepper, five-spice powder, coriander, and cinnamon in small bowl and stir to mix. Season the front and main cavities of the duck with half the rub. Brush the outside of the duck all over with sesame oil. Sprinkle the outside of the duck all over with the remaining rub, rubbing it into the skin. Note: Usually, I don’t bother trussing the duck as you’ll get better absorption of the smoke flavor if the cavity is left open. But you can for a nicer presentation.
- Prick the skin of the duck all over with the tines of a sharp fork. (Do not pierce the meat.) This gives you crisper duck skin as the fat is channeled away.
- Make the smoking mixture: Place the wood chips, rice, tea, sugar, cinnamon sticks, star anises, and tangerine peel in a bowl and stir to mix.
- Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 300 degrees. Place the duck on the rack with a drip pan underneath it. Add half the smoking mixture to the fire or wood chamber. Smoke the duck to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, about 2 hours.
- Increase the smoker heat to 350 degrees (if possible; otherwise, see Note below). Brush the duck skin all over with fat from the drip pan or more sesame oil. Add the remaining cherry wood and smoking mixture and continue smoking until the skin is dark and crisp and the duck is cooked through, 175 to 180 degrees, another 1 to 1-1/2 hours. (The Chinese eat their duck well done.) There are two ways to test for doneness. Wiggle one of the drumsticks: the leg should move freely. Or check the internal temperature of the meat in the thickest part of the leg with an instant-read meat thermometer. Serve with the barbecue sauce. Note: If your smoker does not allow for temperatures higher than 250 degrees, increase the cooking time by 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Set up your grill for indirect grilling and build a medium-hot fire (400°F). Place the salt slab in the center of the grate away from the heat and preheat it as well.
- Cut the squashes in half widthwise (through the stem end) and scoop out the seeds. Place each squash half, cut sides down, on the salt slab. Roast until tender (squeeze the sides to check for doneness), about 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the squash.
- Meanwhile, make the stuffing: Place the bacon and shallots in a cool cast iron skillet. Cook over medium heat until the bacon begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the pecans and cranberries and cook until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mixture cool, then stir in the cheese.
- Turn the squash halves cut sides up (grill rings or donuts made out of crumpled aluminum foil) will help them hold them steady). Spoon the stuffing into the squash halves. Pour 1 tablespoon or more of the maple syrup over each squash half and place 1/2 tablespoon of butter in the center. Return the squash halves to the grill.
- Continue salt grilling the squash until the butter melts and the filling sizzles, 5 to 8 minutes. Note: For a vegetarian version, omit the bacon and sauté the shallots, nuts, and cranberries in 2 tablespoons of butter.
Hoisin BBQ Sauce
Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and gently simmer until thickened and richly flavored, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring from time to time to prevent scorching.
Let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving.