Friday, January 14, 2011

A Cautionary Tale

Bittman's recipe for tea-smoked duck should have come with a warning: Don't try this at home unless you have the proper equipment. If you don't have a big wok with a well-placed rack, it's best to simply go to your local Chinese restaurant and order tea-smoked duck. Take it from one who knows.

I used my Dutch oven lined with foil, it being the only lidded pot in my kitchen large enough to hold a whole duck, but it had no rack, so I improvised to hold the bird above the smoking materials. That's a wire colander with metal nutcrackers on top to achieve the desired one inch of distance above the rice, tea and sugar.

And this is after you have already steamed the bejeebers out of the duck the day before.

It smoked alright. It smoked the kitchen, the house and me - I had to wash all my clothes despite opening a door and keeping the exhaust fan running the whole time. I guess my lid leaked a bit. It also smoked the duck and the spareribs I tucked alongside the duck - they all turned not "deep mahogany," as Bittman predicted, but almost black.

I'm still soaking my Dutch oven, hoping to get the worst of the black out of it and all the "props" I added to the pot. As I said, Mark Bittman should have included a little warning label with his recipe. It's not as easy has he makes it sound.



Blogger Kailyn said...

Uh oh. And here I was all excited about a recipe I saw yesterday for tea smokes spareribs. The recipe said to use a foil lined roasting pan with wire racks. I may have to rethink this.

Friday, January 14, 2011  
Blogger Greg said...

Holey Smokes! I have always wondered if smoking indoors was viable. Never been brave enough to try it. Thanks for heads up.

Friday, January 14, 2011  
Blogger Chilebrown said...

Smoking food items should be done outside unless you have a commercial stregth fan. I forgot to tell you.

Friday, January 14, 2011  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Even smoking outside would have blackened your ware, though, I'm guessing. What a trial!

Friday, January 14, 2011  
Blogger James said...

I'm sorry it didn't work out for you. At least you got the bejeebers out of the duck before you were done, those things can be a bit tricky.

Friday, January 14, 2011  
Blogger Ms Brown Mouse said...

Do you have a lidded bbq? I was planning to try it in a Webber.

Friday, January 14, 2011  
Blogger Chilebrown said...

cookiecrumb, You should not use your good cooking vessels for smoking. In fact disposable aluminum ware is the best. I forgot to tell you, but you knew that already.

Friday, January 14, 2011  
Blogger namastenancy said...

I remember doing something similar years ago. I never repeated the experiment and now, I'm glad that I was so cautious. So sorry about the smoky mess; I think you should write Bittman a letter and complain about the incomplete information.

Friday, January 14, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Kailyn, go ahead and smoke your spareribs - but do it outside! :-)

Greg, I'd have to say, no, it's not. :-)

Chilebrown, I should have known better. Oh, well, at least it was an experience.

Cookiecrumb, If I had used my barbecue, I think the Weber would have subbed for the ware. However, I'm not eager to try again - I'll just head for Harmony!

James, yes, that was a very important step in the process. :-D

Ms. Mouse, if I was ever to do it again, I'd try it in the Weber. You were smart the first time.

Nancy, I don't really blame Bittman. Just reading his recipe, I should have known it would be too smoky for a home application. Also, I may have made some mistakes, like trying to use a Dutch oven instead of a wok. Chalk it up to (bitter) experience.

Saturday, January 15, 2011  

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