Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Duck Prosciutto

Here is another Charcuterie post to follow some more of Polcyn and Ruhlman's Book, Charcuterie. This is one of the simplest and most accessible recipes in the book as it only requires a few easy to obtain ingredients. All you need is a good duck breast, some kosher salt, pepper, butchers twine and cheesecloth.

This was my first introduction to air drying meats and I learned a lot from it in the process. I also ended up with two perfectly delicious duck prosciutto breasts, so I am pretty happy with this recipe. However, I'd suggest trying duck prosciutto yourself before you invest your time and money in it. It is a very complex dried meat, at least in my opinion, and should only be made if you are going to actually like it.

For those of you who do not know how to tie a butchers knot, go to 1:17 of this video and watch what he does carefully. It looks hard but all you really do is pass the meat through the knot and continue that process until the end.

Duck Prosciutto:
A large amount of coarse kosher salt
1 to 2 high quality duck breasts, rinsed, cleaned, and patted dry
Ground pepper (black, white, or a mix of red, green, black and white)
Butchers twine
A nonreactive container that can fit both breasts without touching

1. In a nonreactive container, pour a 1/4 inch thick bed of salt for the breasts.
2. Place the breasts into the container, fat side up.
3. Pour enough salt on top of the breast to fully cover them, plus make a 1/4 inch thick layer of salt on top. Cover the container lightly with plastic wrap.
4. Refrigerate 24 hours and remove the breasts from the salt. The color of the breast should have turned a deep dark purplish red color.
5. Rinse the breasts of all salt and then thoroughly pat dry with paper towels. Dust with pepper. Wrap the breasts evenly in cheesecloth. Tie off the breast with butchers knots and hang in a cool damp basement (40 to 65 degrees) for a week.
6. Check the breasts after one week. Make sure they are firm and "push back" when you squeeze them. They should not be squishy or rock solid. If they are still too squishy let them air dry more, checking once each day until needed stiffness.
7. Remove from cheese cloth, wrap tightly in plastic and store in the fridge up to 1 1/2 months.
8. Before cutting the breast, put it in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up a little extra, then cut meat as thin as possible with a sharp knife. (You can also use a meat slicer if you have one.)
The finished product

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