Okay, so you may have had some prosciutto, or eaten some salami, but today is a bit of an advanced lesson that deals with home curing your very own duck breast prosciutto. I’m just going to start outright by saying that you have a high chance of cross contamination if you don’t start out by designating your entire bottom fridge shelf as a curing shelf for a minimum of 15 days. ALSO you’ll need a little special equipment, a 1/2 sheet pan, plus a 1/2 sheet pan cooling rack, as well as some cheese cloth, and as far as specialty ingredients we’ll just say juniper berries if you can find them. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about prosciutto, a prosciutto is traditionally a cured hind leg of a pig that has been submerged in salt for weeks, then pulled out, rinsed, dried, and smeared with lard then more salt before being hung to dry for years. Duck prosciutto are duck breasts that have been submerged in salt for a day or two, rinsed, dried, and seasoned before being hung to dry for a couple weeks. If you’re seeing what I’m putting down, it’s not exactly a prosciutto, but it’s a cured meat so I guess they’re similar enough, anyways, at work I’ve butchered over 50 ducks by this point and have made over 100 breasts of duck prosciutto and each time it’s getting a little better. It’s very easy to do and I wanted to share, due to the lean meat of duck breasts they cure rapidly, and the fatty skin makes for an incredible fatty burst of flavor, they’re delicious sliced thin served raw, or cubed and used as lardons for your pasta. If you’re feeling wild you can make one of my favorite sandwiches in the world, duck breast, brie, apricot jam, and toasted almond in a panini.
DUCK BREAST PROSCIUTTO
INGREDIENTS FOR CURE
- 4 – Duck Breasts, Skin on, Boneless (you may have to buy a couple ducks and butcher out the breasts)
- 3lbs – Kosher Salt
- Butcher your duck breasts (the link leads to a tutorial video)
- Rinse and pat breasts dry, then score the duck fat, making sure to not pierce all the way to the flesh
- In a 8″ square baking dish pour in up to 1″ salt, no less than a 1/2″ though
- Place breasts on salt, skin side up, and completely cover with salt by a minimum of a 1/2″ with no meat showing anywhere (putting it skin side up allows the juices leached out to go down instead of welling up in the skin)
- Wrap thoroughly with plastic wrap and place on predesignated bottom shelf of your fridge for 36 hours, but no longer than 48
INGREDIENTS FOR DRYING
- 2ea – Whole Allspice
- 2ea- Garlic Cloves
- 4ea – Whole Juniper Berries
- 2tbsp – Whole Black Peppercorns
- 2tbsp – Dried Sage
- 2tbsp – Dried Thyme
- Combine all the items in a mortar and pestle, if you don’t have one, combine everything but garlic in a coffee grinder(it will not be good for coffee anymore) and when finished put 1 tsp of the mixture on the garlic cloves and smash into mush with the side of your knife then combine with the rest of the spices until incorporated.
- Pull the ducks out of the salt and discard the salt, rinse the duck and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels
- Rub the ducks thoroughly with the spice blend, ensuring to rub well into the skin
- Wrap the ducks in a thin single layer of cheese cloth making sure no meat is exposed
- Place wrapped duck on cooling rack on top of 1/2 sheet pan and place in your fridge for 15 days, flip the ducks after 7 days
- If they are still flimsy to the touch after 15 days leave them in there another week, really they’ll get better over a couple weeks period
So next time you’re going to impress someone with a duck confit, and you ended up buying a whole duck, cure the breasts and build up a supply of delicious duck prosciutto. The best way to story is in the cheesecloth on a rack in some container of sorts so it’s properly vented, it will only last a few weeks wrapped in plastic as bacteria will form, but now you know how to do something that’s incredibly delicious and easy, but time consuming. How awesome is it going to feel when you’re having over guests and you whip out a meat and cheese platter with a meat you cured yourself, pretty damn awesome, that’s how awesome!