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How to add smoky flavour without a smoker?

So I'm looking to impart a smokey flavour to some duck legs despite the fact I don't have (and am not intending to buy) a smoker. I'm not a fan of the liquid smoke stuff simply because I like avoiding artificial flavouring of any kind. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks in advance!

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  1. you can slow smoke your fish for example,rolled up in wet newspaper....keep your eye on it..

    1. If you don't want to add actual smoke, what about adding some flavor via a rub or marinade-- chipotle or smoked paprika....I like to char-roast peppers and find that is a nice, smokey compliment to meats.

      If you wanted to be adventurous (and have a good exhaust hood) you can make a smoker by lining a wok w/ HD foil, putting some wood chips (1/2 cup or so) on there, put a cooling rack or cake rack over the chips and cover the wok. Crank the burner to high, and when you start to see smoke coming up, add the duck, replace the cover, and lower the heat to medium-med high. Cook the duck for about a half hour-40 minutes. Then, finish cooking however you'd like.

      1. You can smoke in a wok. If you google tea-smoked duck or chicken, you'll find lots of recipes which do this. Basically you line the wok with foil (I double-line for safety), scatter brown sugar and other seasonings on the bottom. The usual additions are rice, star anise, cinnamon and tea for tea-smoked meats, but you can vary these to suit yourself.

        You need a rack over the smoking mixture. I use one of those collapsible ones which look like a lattice when opened, and close into a longish tube. You can probably improvise with a circular cake rack or steaming rack. Brush with oil, place duck on top. Heat the mix until it starts to smoke which will only take a few minutes. Close wok (I usually line the lid with foil as well - I don't know if the smoke will leave a residue but I'd rather not have to scrub the lid). Smoke until duck is cooked, or you can stop after a few minutes and finish cooking out of the smoke.

        The meat will be colored a light gold from smoking and have a pleasantly smoky flavor. Tea-smoked chicken is delicious.

        5 Replies
          1. re: cheryl_h

            Hmm... this sounds like a pretty easy method. But what happens to the copious amounts of fat that will surely drip from the duck? Won't that splatter and be difficult to clean?

            1. re: Juniper

              Well everything is lined with foil so you just throw it away and you should have minimal clean up. If I were doing duck legs, I would pre-cook them which will render much of the fat before smoking. Legs can be chewy so I don't think you want these to be lightly cooked.

              Do you have a recipe? The normal way you tea smoke meat is to start with a marinade. Some recipes have you cook the meat, then smoke it; others smoke to doneness. You can also smoke, then finish cooking some other method. I do this with smoke/roast chickens - smoke to get the smoky flavor, finish roasting in the oven.

              1. re: cheryl_h

                I don't generally work from recipes, but the final product will require the duck to be incorporated into a stew (I know, it's too hot for a stew, but I can't help when I crave certain things!). Would you recommend I smoke until done or smoke partially? I'm thinking partially will be sufficient if it is to be stewed later.

                I suppose I'm a bit afraid that the fat would go up in flames...

                1. re: Juniper

                  Smoking partially should do it. You can turn the heat off, let the duck cool and taste it. If it's not sufficiently smoky, it's not hard to get the smoke going again. I would probably smoke for about 10 minutes over medium heat.

                  No, the fat will not catch fire. The smoke comes from the heated sugar so it's smoking at a fairly low temperature. If you smoke for 5-10 minutes you'll see the caramelized sugar on the bottom of the wok. Smoke for another 10 minutes and the sugar will be a black blob. After that you won't get much or any smoke.

                  The smoke from burning sugar has a slightly caramel smell and taste which is why meat done this way is so tasty.

            1. re: Aromatherapy

              That was my first thought...bacon or tasso or country ham or any other smoked pork product. Wrap those duck legs with bacon, or slip a little diced tasso or country ham beneath the skin before roasting, or brown/sear in bacon grease.

              1. re: Hungry Celeste

                I think I'll incorporate bacon into the stew the duck will ultimately be a part of anyway. But I don't ever seem to like to take the easy route for some reason, so I was curious to know if I could smoke without a smoker.

                Thanks though!

                1. re: Juniper

                  So if it's a stew, it just screams out for pork products. Wilt the aromatics/veggies in bacon grease, brown the legs in bacon fat, or make the starting roux with bacon grease. Can you tell that I'm part of a bacon cult ;)

            2. If you look at the ingredients of some liquid smokes, you will see that they are simply the condensed liquid from the inside of a smoker. Nothing artificial,carcinogenic maybe, but not artificial.

              1. I wonder if you could do something with a smoky tea like Lapsang Souchong or Russian Caravan, maybe in a marinade?

                1 Reply
                1. re: maryv

                  CI found that adding Lapsang Souchong (on the lower rack of the oven) produced a smokey flavor to meat. Check their website for the whole article/analysis.

                  1. You could make your own liquid smoke! I don't like liquid smoke either, but ever since I saw Alton Brown make it, I've been intrigued!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      I don't want to get snotty about this, but what's the point? That's like going out and buying simple syrup. Commercial liquid smoke is simply the residue from real live wood smoke dissolved in water. Period. A perfect example of the difference between artificial (i.e. made by artifice) and synthetic (i.e. made from non-natural ingredients to mimic a natural flavor).

                    2. I second the recommendation for smoked paprika...it's really
                      not much like regular paprika. It's called pimenton, or
                      pimenton a la vera. It comes from the Jarandilla area
                      of Spain and is available at stores like The Spanish Table in
                      Berkeley and Mill Valley, and other gourmet grocery and spice stores. Call to make sure they have it, but they usually do.

                      It comes in various levels of heat: dulce (my favorite), picante and so on.

                      It's great on eggs, meats, roast chicken (before it goes into
                      the oven), marinara sauce, etc.