By Bri Van Scotter, Wilderness to Table
There may not be a more refreshing way to cook duck à l’orange than on a beer can.
Are we combining traditional French cuisine with an American backwoods grilling method? You bet we are.
The magic is in the duck’s upright posture. Your duck à l’orange will never be as tender or juicy as it is when it’s cooked with the legs closer to the heat and the breasts farther away. This stance lets the breasts retain more moisture while the skin smokes to a crisp.
You can go the simple route and use a beer can when you smoke your duck. When you shimmy your duck onto the beer can, pull it down until the legs touch the sheet tray to create a tripod. That’ll give your duck more stability and keep it upright. If you go this route, be sure to pour off or drink a quarter or half of the beer before you cook with it.
If you love cooking whole birds with beer, it’s worth the investment to get a ceramic chicken holder (the cook time is the same). You can grab one on Amazon for as little as $12. This recipe uses the ceramic chicken throne, which solidly holds the duck in place.
When you serve up this tasty smoked beer can duck à l’orange, grab the right drink pairing. Look for a chilled bottle of sauvignon blanc from New Zealand, or serve a Four Roses bourbon neat with a squeeze of juice from orange.
Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Ingredients for smoked beer can duck à l’orange
For the duck and sauce:
- 1 5 1/2 lb. duck, whole, cleaned, guts removed and patted dry
- 1 12-ounce can of beer with hints of orange, such as Shock Top or Blue Moon
- 8 whole garlic cloves
- 2 navel oranges, sliced
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 1 cup of orange juice
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin
For the garnish:
- Orange cut into supremes
- Fresh chopped chives
- Fresh mint
How to cook smoked beer can duck à l’orange
- Preheat your pellet smoker to 225F.
- Season the duck skin all around with kosher salt and ground black pepper.
- Using a ceramic chicken throne, add the beer to the cylinder. Place the cylinder on a metal sheet tray, then place the duck on top of the cylinder. Add the sliced oranges and onion to the sheet tray.
- Place the duck in the smoker and let it cook for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 160F.
- If the skin isn’t browned enough, bump the heat up to 400F and smoke for another 10 minutes.
- Remove the duck from the smoker and let sit.
- Pour off the drippings, oranges and onions from the sheet tray into a large sauce pot. Mix in the orange juice, vinegar, thyme, ginger and cumin. Move the mixture to the stovetop and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- After the orange sauce has simmered, use a mesh strainer to remove the solids, reserving the sauce.
- To serve, carve the duck into four pieces. Top it with the orange sauce and garnish with oranges, chives and mint.
Bri Van Scotter is a professional Chef & Pastry Chef who turned into a hunter to source the purest proteins possible. She is creator of Wilderness to Table, a Television Host, Author and a hunter who is on a mission to prove there is more to wild game than grilling a backstrap!