There's nothing like an authentic tea-smoked duck, but the smoking process can overwhelm many home kitchens. Enter "smoked tea duck," courtesy of Bay Area cookbook author Eric Gower. He uses lapsang souchong tea and uncooked rice to make a smoky, crispy crust for duck breast, which is then pan-fried in its own fat. Serve with roasted potatoes and a simple green salad if you like.
2 duck breasts, skin on (about 2 lbs. total)
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. lapsang souchong tea
1 tablespoon white rice
About 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sel gris or other coarse sea salt
How to Make It
Dry duck breasts thoroughly with paper towels. Using a very sharp knife, score fat side of duck in a diamond pattern, making slashes about 3/4 in. apart, to allow fat to render easily.
Put 1 tbsp. tea, rice, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and peppercorns in a spice grinder and pulverize into powder. Sprinkle powder on fat side of duck and pat in powder so that it sticks. Dredge underside of duck with any spilled powder.
Preheat oven to 450°. Heat a cast-iron pan (or other heavy, ovenproof pan) over high heat, 1 to 2 minutes, until it's nice and hot but not smoking. Gently place duck, skin side down, in pan. Reduce heat to low and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until most of fat has rendered and has formed a crisp, deeply browned crust (it will look brown rather quickly due to the spices, but keep going until it's crisp).
Season meat side of duck with a little kosher salt and, using tongs, gently turn over. Slide pan into oven and roast 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare, or a few minutes more for medium or well done (cut to check). Avoid overcooking; meat will be tough.
Remove duck from oven and transfer to a cutting board to let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, pulverize remaining 1 tsp. tea in a spice grinder, then add sel gris and give it a few pulses to combine.
Slice duck thinly, transfer to warmed plates, and sprinkle with tea salt to taste.
I tried this recipe when it first came out in Sunset because my wife is a real duck aficinado. I grilled it using indirect heat with a drip pan. We both agreed it was pretty near the tastiest duck we could remember eating!