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Smoked Duck Breasts with Grappa and Dried Cranberry Sauce


1 gallon water
1/2 cup kosher salt
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig sage
1 medium onion, diced
3 medium carrots, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 bay leaves
10 juniper berries
6 duck breasts, skin on
2 minced shallots
 2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 ounces grappa
3 cups duck stock
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
6 sprigs thyme to garnish


In a large pot, combine brine ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and cool completely. Marinate duck breasts in brine for at least 12 hours, or overnight, refrigerated.
After 12 hours, take duck out of brine and allow to air dry. Prepare smoker and cold-smoke duck breast for 1 hour using 2 oz. of apple wood. In a large sauce pan, sauté shallots and butter for 2 minutes, add cranberries and thyme. Sauté 1 minute. Add grappa and stir for 30 seconds. Add duck stock and reduce the liquid by half. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill duck breast skin side down to render fat. Continue to cook duck breast until medium rare, approximately 7 - 10 minutes. 
To serve: Ladle 2 oz. sauce onto individual plates. Slice duck breasts along the width, into 1/4"" slices and gently lay on top of sauce so that the slices overlap to resemble a fan. Serve with wild rice and garnish with a sprig of thyme