We borrow a Chinese technique for infusing an irresistible smoky tea essence into duck, in this case, fragrant Japanese green tea. The breast has a thick layer of fat on the skin; cutting crosshatches into it and sprinkling the bird with salt help the skin get crisp and render fat while grilling. The crosshatches also serve an aesthetic purpose—they make the duck look irresistible when served. If you’re using a gas grill, add the all chips and tea to a smoking pan, then place it in the grill after it’s been preheated.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- ½ cup Japanese green tea leaves (sencha), plus more for sprinkling
- ½ cup mesquite smoking chips
- ½ cup water
- 2 duck breasts (about 1¼ pounds)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Combine the green tea, smoking chips, and ½ cup water in a bowl. Soak for 1 hour. All the water should be absorbed by the tea and chips, but if there’s any water left, drain it off.
- Trim off excess fat from the duck breasts and cut crosshatches into the duck’s skin, about ⅛ inch deep and ¼ inch apart. Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper all over. Let the duck rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Wipe off any moisture that appears on the surface of the breasts with paper towels.
- Set up a grill for indirect heat (medium-low heat; see Grilling Temperature Chart). Place the duck on the indirect side, skin side down, as close as you can to the fire side (so the duck grills on medium-low heat). Grill the duck, covered, for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle a handful of green tea leaves over the fire every 5 minutes, to smoke. Flip the duck after about 20 minutes. For the final minute of grilling, flip the duck again (skin side down now) and shift it directly over the coals to crisp the skin. When the duck is ready, the skin will be browned, the meat ruddy, and all will have a wonderful tea-smoke fragrance. Let the duck rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.