Fragrant Smoked Duck Breasts

This next recipe shows how to improvise a home smoker. The same method can be used for chicken, turkey breasts, fish, shellfish, what you will.


  • 4 duck breasts
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 100 g (¼ lb) uncooked rice
  • 100 g (¼ lb) sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary


Crush the salt and spices, toast them lightly in the wok, and when cool, rub them all over the meat. Put a few inches of water in the wok; put the duck breasts on a rack in the wok, cover, and steam for about 20 minutes. Remove the meat and the rack.

Rinse and dry the wok, and line it with a double thickness of foil. Put the rice, sugar, cinnamon and rosemary in the bottom of the wok. Place the rack on top, and arrange the duck breasts on it. Put the lid on, and seal the edge with foil or damp paper towels rolled up.

Place the wok on medium-high heat, and once the contents – that is, the rice and sugar – have begun to smoke, which you will smell rather than see, resist the temptation to lift the lid, and leave it for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and with the lid still on, leave for a further 15 minutes. Transfer the meat to a carving board, slice thinly, and serve warm or cold.

Fruit sauces were particularly popular in the Edwardian era, and Cumberland sauce, made with redcurrants, is probably the best known. Cherry sauce was popular too, and made, and indeed still makes, an ideal accompaniment to duck as well as ham, tongue and pork. Made with orange juice, port and red wine, it is a fairly heavyweight sauce, eminently suitable for roasts. But for when fresh cherries are available, I have adapted the recipe to make a lighter, vinaigrette-style sauce, to serve with a cold duck or ham. Either dish would be excellent for a summer luncheon in the garden. I have opted for duck breasts, as they are so quick and easy to cook, but if you were feeling more adventurous, you could ask your butcher to bone a duck for you so that you could turn it into a, stuffing it with minced duck and pork, pistachios, herbs and seasoning, the breasts left whole, all wrapped in the duck skin, roasted, allowed to go cold and then sliced.