Peking Duck For Thanksgiving

Peking Duck

Like many people, it looks like we are going to be a small crowd for Thanksgiving this year, but I still wanted to do something special. I came across a duck on sale at my local grocery store and I figured it would be the perfect thing. Nicer than the average chicken and small enough to feed the family without too much left over.  Peking duck has been on my list to make for a while so I figured this was the perfect excuse. Similarly to turkey, Peking duck is often carved tableside. Peking duck is named after the city it comes from, the capital of China. Peking is more commonly known as Beijing. It got the name Peking due to the translation  by postal authorities in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Peking Process

Peking duck was originally considered food for royalty, and was regularly on the menu in the Chinese Imperial court. Traditionally it was was cooked over peach or pear wood. To honor this tradition I have included instructions for cooking this the duck in the smoker as well as a traditional oven. One of the key parts making Peking duck is separating the skin from the fat. This helps the fat render and the skin crisp. You can do this by sliding your fingers between the skin and the fat, but the best (and most fun) way to do this is inflate the duck with an air compressor.  Luckily, a friend recently gave me a spare compressor. (Thanks Amitai). Also, the duck really benefits from being cooked vertically. This prevents the bottom of the duck from stewing in its own juices. If you can hang your duck when cooking or use a vertical roasting rack.  In a pinch, you use an empty beer can inserted into the bottom of the cavity to prop your duck up.

Adding Thanksgiving Flavor

Most recipes for this dish call for red vinegar, but I know that can be hard to find, and even harder to find kosher. Instead of using red vinegar I used apple cider vinegar mixed with jelled cranberry sauce right out of the can.  This provided the red color, along with the added benefit of infusing some traditional Thanksgiving flavor. Also, the primary seasoning for Peking duck is Chinese five spice, which includes many traditional fall and winter holiday flavors like anise, cinnamon, and clove. 

0 from 0 votes
Peking Duck
Thanksgiving Peking Duck
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hr

An American twist on a Chinese classic. A great dish when you are looking for something special for the holidays and you have a small crowd.

Course: Main Course, Poultry
Cuisine: American, Asian, Chinese, Holiday
Keyword: Chinese, Duck, Peking, Peking Duck
Servings: 4 People
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 1 Duck
  • 1/4 Cup Hoisin Sauce
  • 1/2 Cup Chinese Five Spice Mix-Divided See recipe below. Store bought will work in a pinch.
  • 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Jelled Cranberry Sauce Straight from the can.
  • 1/2 Cup Honey
  • 1 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 Scallion Sliced Thinly
  • 1 Cubic Inch Ginger Peeled and sliced into planks
  • Water Enough to fill a large pot or wok
  1. Remove any feathers that that remain on the duck, being carefully not to tear the skin. Trim any excess fat from both ends of the cavity. Tip: Don't throw out that fat. Render it and use it to cook potatoes (or latkes!). Duck fat is one of the tastiest fats out there.

  2. In a small bowl, combine all of the hoisin sauce, kosher salt, and half of the Chinese Five Spice mix. Spoon all of the mixture into the bottom of the cavity of the duck. Using your fingers, spread the hoisin and five spice mixture. Then add the ginger and scallions to the cavity and close the cavity up using the skewer to pin the two sides of cavity shut.

  3. Next separate the skin from the fat. You can you this by inserting your fingers between the skin and meat. Alternatively you can do this by inflating the duck with an air pump or an air compressor, inserting the air hose under the skin of the duck's neck.

  4. Fill a large pot or wok with water and two tablespoons of Chinese five spice. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, ladle it over all parts of the duck being careful not to get any in the cavity. This should cause the skin to tighten up.

  5. In a small sauce pot, combine the apple cider vinegar, honey, cranberry sauce, soy sauce, and the remainder of the Chinese five spice. Place over medium heat and stir until the cranberry sauce is dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool slightly and brush the skin of the duck with the mixture.

  6. Place the duck on a wire rack over a lined sheet pan. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered to allow the skin to dry for a minimum of 8 hours.

  7. Roast the duck vertically at 275°F for about 45 minutes. If you are using a vertical roasting rack you will need to open up the bottom of the cavity that you sewed shut with the skewer. Then raise the heat to 400°F and cook until the skin crisps up, about another 10 minutes.

    If roasting vertically is not an option put the duck back on the wire rack over the sheet pan that you used when you put the duck in the refrigerator to dry the skin. Just make sure to drain the fat out of cavity about every 15 minutes when cooking by picking it up vertically for a minute.

  8. Alternatively you can smoke the duck using the same times and temperatures stated above by hanging it by its wings with stainless steel hooks from the grates in your smoker over fruit wood. (Peach or pear wood be best but apple will work just fine and is much easier to find). Be careful not to let the the duck to get too close to fire or it will burn.

  9. Allow the the duck to rest for about 10 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle. Remove the leg quarter from the breast by cutting the joint between them. Remove the wings by cutting around the joint that attaches it to the breast. Then remove the breast meat by cutting down along the breast bone. Slice the breast meat in to 1/2" pieces and serve. Pro tip: The skin off the the back bone is delicious. Keep it a cooks treat, you've earned it. Serve alongside some plum sauce or hoisin sauce.

0 from 0 votes
Moscow Mule
Chinese Five Spice Powder
Prep Time
2 mins
Cook Time
3 mins
Course: Seasoning
Cuisine: Asian, Chinese
Keyword: Chinese, Chinese Five Spice, Chinese Five Spice Powder, Chinese Spice, Five Spice, Spice
Servings: 1 Cup
Author: Daniel Peikes
  • 4 tbsp Whole Cloves
  • 4 tbsp Fennel Seed
  • 4 Whole Star Anise
  • 1 Soft Cinnamon Stick
  • 4 tbsp Sichuan Peppercorns
  1. Put all the spices in a dry skillet over low heat. Toast the spices until fragrant, making sure to keep them moving in the skillet so they don't burn.

  2. Break up the cinnamon stick and add the spices your electric grinder or mortar and grind to a powder. Store in an airtight container.


Don’t forget to check out Rachel’s latest Thanksgiving recipe:

Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies


Happy Pi Day: Smoked Duck Personal Pot Pie

Pot Pie

Happy Pi day (at least for another few hours) to my math nerd friends, not to be confused with National Pie Day, which next year will be on Tuesday, January 23rd according to Google. For those of you who don’t remember, Pi (π) is the Greek letter used to represent the magical number needed to calculate the area and circumference of a circle.  Its approximate value is 3.14, hence Pi day is March 14th.  See this link for a much more accurate value for Pi: Pi to a million places. Now that the math lesson is over, on to the food!

Many people make pie for Pi Day because they sound the same and they are generally circular (and who doesn’t want an excuse to eat pie!), and therefore Rachel has challenged me to Pi Day throw down. I had some leftover smoked duck from my Very BBQ Purim Se’udah, and figured pot pie was a great way to use it up.  And yes, this recipe will work fine with roast duck, roast turkey, or even chicken.

Pot Pie Mise

5 from 1 vote
Cut Pot Pie
Smoked Duck Personal Pot Pie
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
3 hrs 20 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Dish
Cuisine: BBQ, Homemade
Servings: 12
Author: Daniel Peikes
Duck Stock (Or Just Use Chicken Stock)
  • 1 Duck Carcass Leftover
  • 2 Duck Wings
  • 1 Tablespoon Celery Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Whole Mustard Seed
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Dill
  • 1 Tablespoon Black Peppercorns
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 Cups Duck (or Chicken) Stock
  • 2 Smoked Duck Legs and Thighs Bones Removed
  • 2 Carrots Diced
  • 11 Oz Canned Corn
  • 1 Medium Onion Chopped
  • 6 Medium Mushrooms Chopped
  • 2 Stalks Celery Chopped
  • 4 Cloves Garlic Chopped
  • 3/4 Cup AP Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
  • 24 Puff Pastry Squares or Rounds
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 Egg Beaten
  1. Take all the ingredients for the stock, put it in a large pot, and boil for couple of hours. Strain out the solids and preserve the liquid.
  2. Put the oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. After 2 minutes, add the flour and whisk until the all the flour is coated in oil and there are no dry pockets. This is called a roux.
  3. Turn the heat down to low and cook the roux until it starts to brown, stirring regularly to prevent burning.
  4. Add all the vegetables, the stock, and the duck meat to the pot and stir, making sure to incorporate the roux into the mixture. Cook until the vegetables have softened.
  5. Spray 2 muffin pans (they usually hold 6 muffins) with cooking spray. Press one puff pastry square into each muffin compartment to form the bottom crust. Add the filling, about 2/3 of the way to the top and cover with another puff pastry square, tucking the ends in. Brush egg on top.
  6. Preheat the over to 350°F and bake until golden, about 20 minutes.

Cut Pot Pie

Let me know what you think of the recipe in the comments.  Also, let me know if you liked my recipe or Rachel’s better.  You can find hers here: Happy Pi Day! Chocolate Sweet Potato Pudding Pie with Maple Coconut Cream