Duck Breast with Orange and Thyme

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    as a small main course
    • Difficulty


Appears in

Hot Coals: A User's Guide to Mastering Your Kamado Grill

Hot Coals

By Jeroen Hazebroek and Leonard Elenbaas

Published 2015

  • About

In this recipe, you’ll encounter every technique that could possibly be applied to preparing meat: grilling, smoking, and searing in a pan. We like to buy big, fat, farmed duck breast, since these can withstand all kinds of temperature changes without the risk of drying out. The intention is to allow the taste of smoke to penetrate the meat and fatty parts. That way you’ll get a mild greasy fume during grilling and a nice Maillard reaction in the pan—a harmonious combination of all the techniques. Searing in a pan or on a griddle will brown the meat on the fatty skin side without setting the coals on fire.


  • 2 (10½-ounce/300-g) farmed duck breasts (magret de canard)
  • 2 oranges, cut into ½-inch (12-mm) slices
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  • 200 to 390°F (90 to 200°C)

What You Need

  • Cherrywood for smoking (1 small chunk or a handful of chips)
  • Heat shield
  • Drip pan
  • Standard grid
  • Food thermometer
  • Skillet or cast-iron griddle


  • With a small, sharp knife, remove the membranes and tendons from the duck breast. Score the fatty skin in a crosshatch pattern. Place the duck fillets between two layers of orange slices and thyme sprigs and lay them on a baking sheet or in a shallow pan. Apply pressure by placing a container filled with water on top and refrigerate them for 2 hours.
  • Fire up the kamado to 265 to 280°F (130 to 140°C) and create one hot spot. Then reconfigure the kamado for smoking at about 200°F (90°C). Place the smoking wood on top of the hot spot and install the heat shield. Wait until the kamado begins to smoke. Fill the drip pan with water and add the orange slices and thyme for added flavor. Place the pan on the heat shield and install the grid.
  • Place the duck breasts on the grid, skin-side up. Smoke them for about 20 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches between 122 and 127°F (50 and 52°C).
  • Remove the duck breasts and wrap them in aluminum foil. Remove the grid, the drip pan, and the heat shield. Return the grid and place the skillet or griddle on top. Heat up the kamado to 390°F (200°C).
  • Grill the duck breasts flesh-side down on the grid until fumes develop. Turn the duck breasts over into the skillet. Fry the skin sides for about 2 minutes to crisp them.
  • You can leave the dome open while you’re pan-searing the meat to check that the skin doesn’t blacken. Using gloves, lift the skillet or griddle out of the kamado and make sure no hot grease splashes over your hands.
  • Remove the duck breasts to a cutting board and allow them to rest for a few minutes before you slice them diagonally in thin slices. A good core temperature is 135 to 140°F (58 to 60°C).

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