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.