Holiday Feature


Smoked Mallard Duck Legs
with Hoisin Sauce Over Couscous

by John Manikowski


This recipe was introduced in the first year of Konkapot Restaurant, when I spent much time smoking foods. (A close friend once told me he thought the only thing I haven't smoked was broccoli. I was tempted to take him up on it; he is vegetarian and might enjoy it.) I smoked hams, Canadian bacon, salmon, shrimp, lobster, cheeses, turkeys—among other things -- and many, many ducks.

As tasty as this dish is, for some reason it never really did well on our menu. Fortunately, whenever menu items don't sell in a restaurant, you-know-who ends up eating the left-overs late at night. I always enjoy these smoked duck legs, anytime.

This dish goes nicely with sautéed snap peas in butter with toasted sesame seeds and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

You may substitute rice in place of couscous.

Hoisin sauce is available in the Asian food section of supermarkets.

The duck legs will be best if marinated overnight.

For The Duck:

Mix together the hoisin sauce, sherry, lemon juice and pepper in a large mixing bowl. Make several small slits in the skin and flesh of the duck legs and thighs. Inject the solution into the meat with a meat syringe as is available from Morton Salt Company, and/or immerse the legs in the marinade overnight, refrigerated.

Next day: Light a charcoal fire in a backyard smoker.

When the charcoals are gray and hot, remove the duck legs from the marinade and lay them on the top grate of the smoker. Cover and smoke for about 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Turn once and baste with the marinade. Replenish charcoal and wood chips as needed. Remove and brush legs with warmed hoisin sauce before serving.

Serves 4.

For The Couscous:

Place stock in a large sauce pan with a colander suspended over the top. You may add any duck giblets and parts to the stock for added intensity. (When you are finished steaming the couscous, cool the stock and save to make soup.) Place the couscous in the colander, cover with a clean cloth or aluminum foil and bring stock to a boil. Steam for about 30 minutes (or 5 minutes if using quick-cooking couscous), stirring often with a wooden spoon. The semolina will take on the flavor of the stock and should be light and fluffy.

Serve 2 legs per person over a bed of the couscous.

Serves 4.

Wine Recommendation

From Australia: The Cabernet Sauvignon Coonawarra from the reliable vintner, Rosemount. It is dense, yet smooth with much currant and cherry flavors. I like many of Rosemount's reds but this is a particularly fine cabernet. I still have some of the 1992 left, but not for long.


A soft and round merlot comes from Spain's Vega Sindoa. Delicious and also with currant and cherry flavors that go so well with duck.


John Manikowski's Game Recipes

Grilled Duck Breasts with Orange, Ginger and Balsamic Sauce
Upside-Down Roast Canada Goose
Roast Guinea Hens Stuffed with Mangos and Scallions
Smoked Mallard Duck Legs with Hoisin Sauce Over Couscous
Breast of Mallard with Morels and Pistachio-Encrusted Figs
Calvados Pheasant
Pheasant with Olives and Fresh Plums
Smoked Breast Of Pheasant Salad with Pistachio and Date Dressing
Leeky Pheasant
Quail Sautéed with Melon, Thyme and Red Onion
Grilled, Butterflied Wood Duck with Dried Cherry Sauce
Sources for Wild Game
About John Manikowski
An Introduction to Turkey Alternatives

Thanksgiving Recipes
Christmas Recipes