Poultry

Our Adventures with Howard the Smoked Peking Duck

Smoked Peking Duck
Before I get started, let me caution those that get wary about seeing protein in its “whole” state because this recap will show the entire duck (sans feathers) during the cooking process. If that freaks you out, maybe skip this one and just wait until my next post.

We good?

Cool.

Smoked Peking Duck
One of my favorite things about spending a big chunk of time with the family over the holidays is that we notoriously tackle the more challenging Foodventures that we’ve previously deemed extremely laborious or too daunting to try. I’m talking about things like start-to-finish-Tamales, Xiao Long Bao and the time V created an homage to one of their favorite dishes from Flushings ChinatownSteamed Glutinous Rice with Crab in Lotus Leaves.

This past holiday break was no exception as Brother and I took a spin at making Peking Duck for the first time using his Traegar smoker. Yes, the decision was made after consuming a few bottles of wine….but aren’t those the best times to make choices?

No? Just us?

Smoked Peking Duck
Luckily, V & L had discovered a FANTASTIC tutorial by BBQ Champion, Harry Soo, on YouTube that we followed to the “t”.

Fun fact: Harry, who is behind Slap Yo Daddy BBQ, lives in Diamond Bar where 4 out of 5 of us sibbies graduated high school – Go Brahmas!

The day of our Peking Duck undertaking, we popped into 99 Ranch Market to pick up some of the essentials that started with a 6 pound whole duck. I removed its wing tips and feet with a large cleaver and then slowly used my fingers to lift and separate the skin from the meat.

Smoked Peking Duck
With Peking Duck, it’s all about spending LOTS of TLC on the skin to create a crisp and glossy finish. Even after using your fingers to loosen the skin, the pros will then use an air compressor to detach the skin so that when the duck cooks, the fat will slowly melt away.

And if the pros tell us to do so, we’re gonna try it! Particularly since V happens to have an air compressor! So he switched out the tubing and rigged a straw to be used as the nozzle — and we were then off to the races!

Easily the CRAZIEST thing I’ve ever done in the “kitchen”.  Brother and I were cracking up the entire time but it totally worked!

It’s how we bond.

Smoked Peking Duck
While V finished blowing Howard up (yes, I named him — and yes, it’s after the 80s alien duck movie), I charred the scallions and ginger as well as toasted whole star anise and coriander.

Smoked Peking Duck
I also mixed up the marinade for the cavity which included five spice powder, brown sugar, hoisin and a grilling spice mix.

Smoked Peking Duck
After we stuffed Howard with everything listed above, V stitched him up.

Smoked Peking Duck
Harry Soo calls this a “spiral stich”.

V couldn’t find a wooden skewer to use, so he whittled a wooden chopstick down. Quite industrious I thought and it definitely did the job!

Smoked Peking Duck
While Brother stitched up Howard, I brought a big pot of water to a boil that included honey, apple cider vinegar and maltose. Maltose is malt sugar and can be found in tubs as shown below at most Chinese/Asian grocery stores. Check the aisles with the honey and jams.

The maltose helps give the duck a nice sheen and color.

Smoked Peking Duck
Then it was time for Howard to take a little dip in the jacuzzi.

Okay….I admit, it looks a bit savage but just trust the process.

(ps. I did thank Howard for his sacrifice before we started everything….seemed like the right thing to do at the time.)

Smoked Peking Duck
I ladled the boiling liquid over the skin for a few minutes until it tightened and firmed up.

You don’t want to cook the duck but you want to make sure that it’s evenly coated. Again, this dish is all about LOTS of TLC for the skin.

Smoked Peking Duck
Once the duck was sufficiently scalded, it was placed on a rack over a sheet pan and went directly into the fridge (uncovered) for 3 days for the skin to dry out.

Smoked Peking Duck
Three days later (Hey–I never said this was quick), we were left with this. The skin was definitely dried and darkened in color – just what we wanted.

Smoked Peking Duck
V then fired up his smoker to 350 F degrees with soaked apple and hickory wood.

Smoked Peking Duck
He then proceeded to smoke the duck for about 70ish minutes.

Smoked Peking Duck
We were a bit concerned because it was much lighter towards the center breast portion. But miraculously in the last ten minutes or so, V said it caught up and became a beautiful dark golden hue all over.

Smoked Peking Duck
Isn’t he lovely???

Smoked Peking Duck
While Howard rested, I made up a batch of flaky scallion pancakes – the perfect accompaniment!

Smoked Peking Duck
They’re really easy to make and I can post a future recipe if y’all are interested.

I also sliced up some thin cucumbers and more scallions to go with the duck and put out some hoisin sauce.

Smoked Peking Duck
Then we called in Nini and L to do the honors of slicing up the duck. It’s a family affair after all!

Smoked Peking Duck
They say traditional Peking Duck should be sliced into over 100 pieces.

But no one’s got time for that!

Smoked Peking Duck

Anyway, I think Nini’s knife-work is just lovely. How many teenagers do you know have such master skills???

Smoked Peking Duck
And voila! Howard in all his glory (THANK YOU HOWARD!)…

The duck was really delicious….the meat was moist and the skin was lovely. And when eaten with the scallion pancakes, cukes and hoisin–totally legit!

Smoked Peking Duck
Check out this quick little recap video I put together—particularly so you can see the whole crazy air compressor situation! You can also see some snippets in my IG Stories Highlights.

All in all, I think we were pretty successful and I wouldn’t shy away from doing this again! Love our crazy Family Foodventures!

❤ BIG THANKS to Harry Soo for the recipe and tutorial. If you’re into BBQ’ing, definitely check out his YouTube channel.

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Sunday Family Dinner

All the Smokey Goodness..and Then Some!

November 2017 Fam Din
Ever since brother got a Traegar Grill/Smoker, we have been living the glorious all-the-smoked-goodness life! So it was no surprise that for his birthday family dinner, he volunteered to take on the entrees. Hey-I wasn’t going to argue with the birthday boy!

We quickly got the munchkins involved. Here’s Maya and Luna making a bechamel. I mean, what 12 and 8 year old doesn’t know how to make a bechamel???

November 2017 Fam Din
And of course, safety first when the rugrats are cooking. Good thing Bella and Princess Leia are such conscientious supervisors.

November 2017 Fam Din
And while the kiddos went to town, I whipped up cocktails. Since brother is a whiskey and bourbon fan, I mixed up a batch of my Boozy Fall Punch (yeah…I’m a little late on posting this).

It had all kinds of autumnal things like bourbon, brandy, apple cider, pomegranate juice, blood orange soda, cinnamon sticks and chopped up fruit.

It was boozy. It was tasty. Mission Accomplished.

November 2017 Fam Din
The cocktails packed a punch! So we noshed on a Charcuterie Platter….because you know how much we love our cheeses and cured meats!

I just realized the La Tur cheese from Murray’s below kind of looks like a mini-cheesecake. But trust me, it was la tur-rific!

November 2017 Fam Din
Seestrah T also made these cute Mini French Onion Bread Bowls as a second appetizer–recipe courtesy of Tastemade.

November 2017 Fam Din
Think of French Onion Soup…but in dip form! And in its own little bread bowl! Brilliant!

And gosh darn it, it was scrumptious!

November 2017 Fam Din
Quick cooking/eating break for a picture!

November 2017 Fam Din
Can’t forget the dudes!

November 2017 Fam Din

Now on to the food!!!

First up, brother smoked a ginormous side of salmon. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t love salmon. I don’t hate it and I’ll eat it–but of the fishes, it’s not my fav. But when brother busted out this Smoked Salmon he smoked low and slow with mesquite wood pellets, I WAS ALL ABOUT IT!!

It was SUPER moist and had the lightest bit of smoke. The added capers and fresh lemon juice helped to cut through the fatty fish and it was perfect!

November 2017 Fam Din
Not to be outdone by the aquatic beasts, he also did up a huge platter of Smoked Beef Ribs.

November 2017 Fam Din

They were, they were….one word.

BEFF-ilicious.

November 2017 Fam Din

This time around, I was in charge of the sides. First up! Mac and Cheese!

And as you recall, I enlisted Maya and Luna to help out. No idea why N popped in…maybe to try to get in on the credit I suppose. That big seestrah of ours….

November 2017 Fam Din

I make Mac and Cheese quite often but I was listening to a Bon Appetit Pod Cast on the way into work and decided to give their BA’s Best Macaroni and Cheese a shot.

Let me tell you gang, there’s a whole ton of various cheeses in this business — Fontina, Gruyere, White Cheddar and Parmesan. But I decided to go big and added Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack.

I mean, I didn’t want them to feel left out.

And instead of making Maya hand shred all the cheeses, we busted out the food processor. She was definitely pleased with that decision.

November 2017 Fam Din
How did it turn out?

Quite good!

Ridiculously cheesy… but I guess 6 different cheeses will do that to a dish. But yes, I definitely recommend it. It’s quite easy to make and the end result is on point!

November 2017 Fam Din

With all that protein and 200 pounds of cheese, I figured it would be good to have some veggies. So I pulled together a quick Sauteed Kale and Swiss Chard situation. I quickly sauteed some garlic, shallots and chili flakes in some olive oil and threw in a bunch of Lacinato Kale and Swiss Chard. After they were lightly wilted, I finished it with a douse of red wine vinegar to brighten things up.

Eat your veggies right?

November 2017 Fam Din
Before dessert, most of us cleaned up a bit and someone took a nap. Oh that Leia, she’s a reliable one.

And if you’re wondering what Bella was doing, I can only assume that she was upstairs ordering take-out while watching Minecraft videos on YouTube.

November 2017 Fam Din
Finally–DESSERT!

When we asked brother what he wanted for his dessert, he almost instantaneously replied “flan”.  And I’ve got to tell you, I was surprised. I’ve known him all my life and had no idea that the man liked flan that much!

We were dumbfounded….

Seester N’s F.I.L. has a great flan recipe so we immediately tasked her with the job. She used these cute ramekins to make individual sized flan.

November 2017 Fam Din
And to kick things up (it was brother’s bday after all), she spiked the adult flans with rum!

The Creamy Rum Flan was perfect! Creamy (I know, it’s in the name), light and was the most delectable finish to our meal!

November 2017 Fam Din
Here’s one of the munchkins caught in the act….we do pass on great habits, right?

November 2017 Fam Din
And with that, brother’s Family Dinner was a wrap! Here’s to you V! ❤

November 2017 Fam Din

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This Month’s Family Dinner Menu

Cocktails: Boozy Fall Punch, Various Wine
Appetizers: Charcuterie Platter, Mini French Onion Bread Bowls
Entrees: Smoked Salmon, Smoked Beef Ribs
Sides: Bon Appetit’s Best Macaroni and Cheese, Sauteed Kale and Swiss Chard
Dessert: Creamy Rum Flan