Project Smoke – Cherry Smoked Duck

In his second season of Project Smoke, Steven Raichlen shows you new ways to innovate with your Memphis Grill--this one focuses on cooking poultry to perfection.


  • 4 boneless duck breasts (7-8 ounces each)
  • For the Rub
  • 2 tablespoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • Fresh cherry salsa
  • 3 cups pitted fresh cherries (about 1.5 pounds)
  • 1 fresh poblano chile
  • 1 to 2 jalapeno or serrano chiles
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 small red onion (about 1/3 cup chopped)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (or to taste)
  • Combine the ingredients for the salsa in a mixing bowl and gently toss to mix. Serve with Duck Breast.


  1. Step 1: Trim any tendons off the duck breasts with a sharp knife. Score the skin on each breast in a diamond pattern about ¼ inch deep, taking care not to nick the flesh. Brush each duck breast, on both sides, with sesame oil.
  2. Step 2: Make the rub: Combine the salt, sugar, five spice powder, and pepper in a small bowl and stir to mix. Generously sprinkle the rub on both sides of each duck breast.
  3. Step 3: Preheat your Memphis Grill to 180 degrees
  4. Step 4: Arrange the duck breasts, skin side down, on the rack and smoke for 1 hour, or until the internal temperature of the breasts is 100 degrees. (Use your meat probe to monitor this from your Memphis app).
  5. Step 5: Direct Grilling: Move the duck breasts to the side. Raise the temperature to 400 degrees. Once the grill reaches 400, use your genie tool to remove the grate and install your direct flame insert. Then put the grill in to open flame mode to medium, keep the hood open.
  6. (Refer to the video for Plancha Grilling technique with your cast iron skillet).
  7. Step 6: Arrange the duck breasts on the grill grate skin side down. Sear until the skin is nicely browned and has begun to render its fat. (If flare-ups occur, move the meat away from the direct flame insert). Cook, turning as needed with tongs, until the internal temperature of the breast is 130-135 degrees for medium rare. (Higher if you prefer your duck cooked medium or medium-well.)
  8. Step 7: Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 3 minutes. Thinly slice the duck breast on a diagonal and fan out on plates.
  9. Suggested for serving: Skillet Cornbread recipe by Steven Raichlen

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