During duck hunting season, you may find yourself with an excess of duck and a dearth of ideas about how to prepare it. The flavour of smoke pairs well with waterfowl, and smoking adds a depth of flavour to the duck which would be difficult to achieve otherwise. Smoked duck breast makes a great addition to a cured meat or charcuterie plate.
Make the brine. Combine apple juice, salt, thyme, garlic, black pepper and a bay leaf in a large bowl. Stir until the salt is dissolved.
Soak the duck. Soak the duck breasts in the brine for at least eight hours. Brining the breasts overnight is preferred. Store the breasts in the fridge while brining. Once the breasts have brined, rinse them quickly under running water and pat them dry with paper towels. Set aside.
Season the duck. If you want to add more flavour, salt and pepper the duck breasts before smoking. Do not oversalt the breasts, as the brine infused the breasts with salt already.
Add the apple or pear wood chips to the smoker and set it to 107 degrees Celsius. Smoke the breasts for one hour at this temperature. Check the temperature using a meat thermometer --- for medium-rare breasts, cook until the internal temperature has reached 71.1 degrees C; for well-done breasts, smoke to an internal temperature of 76.7 degrees Celsius.
Serve the breasts by thinly slicing them. You can serve the slices with crackers, or plate them with a side of applesauce.
If you buy your duck breasts at the store, they will have more fat than wild breasts. Be sure to keep the fat side facing up when smoking.