How does this heaping pile of deliciousness not deserve all caps and an exclamation point!? I felt truly rich when we unwrapped the butchers paper and unveiled the freshly sliced centerfold bounty above. This wasn't just any cured meat - this was "prosciutto" I'd cured in our refrigerator! Somehow, magically it seemed, we had transformed a raw duck breast into something amazingly tasty using only the power of time and a little cool air. Want to give it a try?
Duck Prosciutto (modified from Michael Ruhlman's recipe in Charcuterie)
- one raw duck breast (about 1lb), skin on
- about 2 cups of kosher salt, or as needed to cover the breast in your container
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground white pepper
- other herbs (optional - I used garlic and rosemary)
1. Put 1 cup of the salt into a glass or ceramic baking or casserole dish that is just big enough to hold the duck without it touching the edges. Nestle the breast in and then cover with salt. If you'd like to add a little spice, mix it in with the salt before adding the duck. I tried rosemary and garlic and it was excelent! Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
2. Remove the duck from the salt, rinse thoroughly, and pat completely dry with paper towels. The meat will be dense and the color will have deepened (mine was stiff as a board!). Dust the breasts on both sides with white pepper.
3. Wrap the breast in a layer of cheesecloth and tie with
string. Hang the breast in your refrigerator for about 7
days or until it has lost 30% of it's weight (this took over 2 weeks for us). The timing will depend on the temperature and humidity of your refrigerator or ageing space. The ideal temp would be from 50-60 degrees F and humid. At cooler temps the meat cures more slowly so you will need to wait a tad longer. If you have a cellar that fits the bill, by all means - use it!
4. Slice thinly at home, or ply your butcher with whiskey (this is Brooklyn), have them slice it, and get a free flavor critique from someone that really knows meat! We really liked the way it tasted paired with apple, aged raw milk gouda, and mustard on a baguette. I also tried crisping it in a cast iron pan one morning to put in an omelette - duck bacon :) Yum!
If your cut weighs less than 1lb to start off with, cure it in the salt for less time. Ours was a little under and we left it in for the full 24 hours. It ended up with a consistency more like bresaola (dry, dense, and smooth) than prosciutto (moist and meaty). Luckily we love bresaola!
Next I'd really love to try a salami - has anyone tried to cure one at home? I'd love to hear about it!