Last weekend our cooking group cooked up an American barbecue of which this brilliant recipe from the Hang Fire Cookbook was the standout dish so I really wanted to share it with you.
As Sam and Shauna say you can serve it cold but we had it hot and it was utterly delicious so I wouldn't hesitate to double the quantity.
NOTE - just to reiterate you need to start it two days in advance
Cooking methods: Curing, Indirect Grilling/Smoking
Wood: Apple, Pear, Cherry
What’s not to like about duck pastrami? This is a great recipe that we’ve been making for the past couple of years and it really isn’t as complex as you might think. You can eat it cold, shave it over salad served with a nice punchy blackberry reduction, have it as part of a charcuterie board, or make the most awesome duck Reuben. As with all cured meats, this is gonna take patience, you’re looking at starting the recipe two days in advance.
4 good-quality duck breasts (about 250g each)
For the Cure
100g fine sea salt
2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp soft dark brown sugar
1 tbsp garlic powder
8 juniper berries, ground
3 bay leaves, ground
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp ground coriander
For the Rub
4 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper
2 tbsp coarsely ground coriander seeds
1 tbsp garlic granules
½ tsp mixed spice
First make the cure. In a small bowl, thoroughly combine the cure ingredients. Coat the duck breasts entirely with cure and place in a large ziplock bag. Place in the coldest part of the refrigerator and cure for 48 hours, flipping the bag twice a day.
Place the duck breasts in a large container and fill with water. Allow to soak for 1 hour. Drain and pat them dry with kitchen towel.
Next, combine the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl.Coat the duck breasts entirely with the rub.
Fire up your smoker or grill to 110°C/225°F. Add chunks of cherry wood (or other fruit wood). When the wood is ignited and starts to smoke, put in the duck breasts, skin side down. Smoke for 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 74°C/165°F when inserted into the centre of the breasts. (We cooked this on a gas barbecue for a shorter time (see below) and it was still delicious)
Remove from the smoker/barbecue and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
We prefer to wrap the duck breasts in cling film for at least 24 hours before we eat them, giving the flavours a chance to settle. If you want to reheat the duckstrami, we find that steaming it using a bamboo steamer is best. This warms the pastrami gently without direct heat which could cause it to dry out. Any meat you’re not using can be frozen for up to 3 months, or will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge. It’s a really versatile meat, and not as gamey as regular duck.
What to drink: This is unlikely to be the only dish you're serving - we had an array of other dishes including salads, pickles and ketchups so look to a full-flavoured red to cope with them all. Given the rub I'd favour a good cru Beaujolais like a Morgon rather than the usual pinot noir but a bright fruity syrah or syrah/grenache/mourvedre (GSM) blend would work well too. Or a amber ale.
From The Hang Fire Cookbook: Recipes and Adventures in American BBQ by Samantha Evans & Shauna Guinn (Quadrille, £20) Photography © Paul Winch-Furness
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