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Award Winning Smoked Duck Breast with Arugula Salad

Award Winning Smoked Duck Breast with Arugula Salad

If you think you don’t like duck, you haven’t had this!  I think I described it as “bird bacon”, at the Texas Eggfest, where we were one of the winners in 2014. To describe this, IMHO, it is the perfect bite!

What it is exactly:  It is brined, then smoked, Maple Leaf Farms duck breast that has an espresso rub on it. It is then pan seared to crisp the skin and render out the fat.  The duck is cooked medium rare to medium and then sliced.  It is topped with a raspberry chipotle sauce to add a touch of sweetness.  This all sits on a bed of arugula salad for a nice peppery flavor that harmonizes with the smokiness and espresso flavors in the duck.  Champagne vinaigrette salad dressing adds a real brightness that totally complements the unctuousness of the duck.  It is tossed with mild gorgonzola cheese crumbles and toasted pecans that complete the flavors that bathe every part of your palate.

We, EggObsessed (Kelley), and I came up with this after eating at Hudson’s on the Bend in Austin, TX.  They had a coffee rubbed smoked breast of duck dish that was one of the best things I had ever tasted. We started working on duplicating that dish the very next day.  We read dozens of techniques and recipes for cooking duck…combined a few and tweaked it until we got the tastes that we were looking for.  Then, we set out to put something with it to serve in cups, as a bite, at the Eggfest.

Here is recipe and ingredients for the salad and the technique for cooking the duck:


Pecans: Toast 1 cup of pecan pieces in the oven or BGE at 350 degrees just until they become aromatic, about 5 minutes. Watch carefully to make sure they do not scorch.

Gorgonzola: Freeze 1 cup of gorgonzola crumbles for an hour or more and then put them in a food processor to make the crumble about 1/8” or smaller in size.  This is to make sure that the gorgonzola does not overtake the salad.

Baby Arugula: Toss a large container of baby arugula greens in a mixing bowl with the champagne vinaigrette to your liking.  We really like Girard’s Light Champagne Salad Dressing best.

Toss the pecans and gorgonzola in the salad adding a little at a time, tasting until balanced.  Top with the slices of duck.


We buy the Maple Leaf Farms duck breast at Central Market, here in Austin, TX.  However, you can buy it online: http://www.mapleleaffarms.com/prod-all-natural-boneless-duck-breast

You want the All Natural Boneless Duck Breasts


2 Cups          Apple Juice
1/4 Cup        Sugar
1/4 Cup        Kosher salt
1 Cup           Or enough cool water to cover meat

Heat the mixture in a small bowl with the cup of water and mix until well blended.  Do not boil.  Add enough ice to mixture so that it becomes cool.  Add the mixture to the container that you intend to brine the meat in.  Next, add the duck and then add enough water to cover the meat.  Brine in the refrigerator from 12-24 hours.

Espresso Power Blend Rub Recipe:

3 tablespoons Underwood’s “It’s My Rub!” Power Blend

1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee (Medaglia D’ Oro brand)

1 teaspoon celery salt

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 tablespoon Penzey’s California Pepper Blend

Mix all together, and use as needed.


Score the Skin:

Once the duck has finished brining, remove it from the brine and pat dry.  Then, using a sharp knife, score the skin of the duck breast down to the flesh making a 3/8” cross pattern of scores all across the duck skin.

Apply the Rub:

Apply the rub generously to all sides of the duck breast and let it rest in the refrigerator.

Smoke the Meat:

Smoke the Duck Breasts

Smoke the Duck Breasts

Set up the BGE indirect.

Add some wood chips for smoke.  We use pecan wood.  This is a short smoke, so I use chips to generate more smoke up front.

Bring the BGE temp up to 300 degrees.

Add the meat and cook it until you have and internal temp of 130 degrees.





Searing and Slicing:

Using a COLD cast iron or heavy pan, place the duck breast in the pan, skin side down.  Then turn on the heat medium high and let it sear and the skin tighten up after the skin turns brown, about 5-8 minutes, turn flip the breast do a short sear on the flesh side.  There will be a lot of fat that renders out that is great for a lot of other uses.

Award Winning Smoked Duck Breast

Pan Searing the Duck Breast

Slice the Duck

Slice the Duck

Slice into about 3/8” slices.











Finishing Touches:

Award Winning Smoked DuckPlace the duck slices on top of arugula salad and drizzle the duck with the raspberry chipotle sauce and serve.

We hope you enjoy the Award Winning Smoked Duck Breast with Arugula Salad as much as we do!

Copyright 2016 Underwood’s “It’s My Rub!”



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