Those of you who have been intrigued by my various Charcutepalooza posts over the past few months, and would like to try your hand at making your own "meat", but can't imagine taking the time to grind, season, stuff, and smoke your own charcuterie, this post is for YOU!
As duck is an acquired taste, and not exactly the cheapest meat at the market, I tend not to cook it for the whole brood, but rather in two breast installments for my wife and I on the rare night that the two of us are home alone. Not having two left to feed the pair of us, I decided to turn back the clock and have a go at the very first Charcutepalooza challenge, and whip me up some duck prosciutto. Can I tell you....this stuff is absolutely delicious!
As I mentioned at the outset of this post, If you've ever been curious about making your own charcuterie, but hesitant to jump in with both feet, then this is the perfect recipe with which to start your exploration of the craft. The ladies that run Charcutepalooza chose well when they made this the first challenge as it is simple, fool-proof, and yields such a delicious product that you'll be a homemade charcuterie junky in no time. If you have some laying about, involve your kids in this little excercise. The transformastion of the raw duck into a cured delicacy in just over a week is a pretty cool thing to observe, in fact, charcuterie would make a great topic for a high school science fair project if you ask me. Have fun!
Cheers - Steve
by: Steve Dunn
adapted from a recipe in Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing
- 1 whole, boneless Pekin Duck Breast (I order mine from D'Artagnan)
- 2-3 cups of kosher salt
- 1/2 cup white vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Rinse the breast under cool water and pat dry with a paper towel. Pour about half of the salt into a ramekin (or other small bowl) that is just large enough to hold the duck breast. Place the breast on the salt and pour more salt over it until it is completely covered. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 48 hours.
- When the salting stage is finished, combine the coriander, fennel, cardamom, and pepper in a small bowl, and set aside. Put the vinegar in a bowl, then remove the breast from the salt and plunge it into the vinegar, agitating the breast to remove all the salt, then run it under cold running water for a final rinse. Dry the breast with paper towels and rub it all over with the spice mixture. Wrap the breast in a piece of cheesecloth and knot it at both ends with butcher's twine. Using duct tape, attach one end of the cheesecloth bag to the top of your refrigerator interior, and let it cure until the breast feels firm but not dry, about 1 week.
- Check it at the 1 week mark by giving it a squeeze. The breast should feel uniformly firm throughout, not squishy in the middle. If it still feels a bit soft, give it a few more days, then check it again.
- When done, slice thin and serve as you would pork prosciutto. Well wrapped in plastic wrap, the cured breast will last several weeks in the fridge.