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“Duck Prosciutto”

As you can tell, I’m on a bit of curing kick these days. I’m conjuring my Italian roots. It’s just that I had these duck breasts that were just begging to be turned into prosciutto.

And I couldn’t help myself.

Duck prosciutto is simple to make at home, and is a perfect way to store the meat when you don’t have time to cook it, and you just can’t fit another thing in your freezer. All that it requires is salt, cheesecloth and some twine, and a cool room with good relative humidity. Even store bought or frozen meat will work well.

Ready? OK, here we go…

Kosher salt! That’s the best kind as you know.

You lay the duck breasts in a bed of salt in a non-reactive dish.

It’s all very similar to the other curing we’ve done… like this, and this, and this, and… okay… no mas, you get it, right?

Curing meat was widespread among historical civilizations because it prevented food waste and guaranteed a food supply in the case of a poor harvest. The French and Italians were the first to raise this skill to an art form.

Local craftsmen formed guilds and produced a range of cooked or salted dried meats, which varied from region to region. The only raw product they were allowed to sell was unrendered lard. These preservation methods ensured that meats would have a longer shelf-life even in more modern times.

The result is like a slushy snow. Kind of how the snow is when it gets suddenly warm. Or one of those slushy drinks you see at 7-11…I’ve never had one, but I imagine the texture would be the same. Yet, I don’t recommend this has a beverage, I really don’t.

Remove the breasts from the slush.

Rinse them very, very well.

Dry them very, very well.

Pepper is your friend here. A “dusting” as they say… though I don’t like that term…it sounds pretentious. I TAKE IT BACK, okay?

Cheesecloth now. Wrap them like so… I’ll be quiet so you can watch:

You still there? oops.

Now, don’t be alarmed but… the perfect place for me to hang it in my humble abode was from the back stairwell of the building. The temperature was just perfect and the humidity nice.

I crossed my fingers and hoped the landlord wouldn’t be concerned. Or my neighbor.

These are the risks I take for cured meat.

It shows courage and tenacity I thought as I strung these defiantly from the railing.

And although I’m getting strange looks from my neighbors these days, I concluded that it was worth it.

Because you see, when I unwrapped them, it was like Easter come early.

Look at these beauties!

The flavor is gamier and richer than pig prosciutto, and the color is a deeper red. But it still has that signature chewy, delicate, salty flavor. Serve it thinly sliced with pear, crackers, cheese, or just by itself.

You’ll love it. Promise, cross my heart, pinkie swear, fist punch, head butt, pig grunt…er… or should I say duck quack.

“Duck Prosciutto”

Total Time: 24 hours

Yield: 2 fillets

“Duck Prosciutto”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Kosher salt
  • 2 duck breast fillets, skin on or off
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Cheesecloth
  • Kitchen twine

Instructions

  1. Pour half of the salt in a non reactive container that will hold the breasts snugly without touching.
  2. Place the duck breasts on the salt, skin side up if the skin is still on. Pour the remaining salt on top and pack it well with your hands.
  3. Cover the container with plastic and place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
  4. Remove the breasts from the salt, rinse them well under water, and pat them dry. They should be a deeper red and feel firm to the touch.
  5. Dust the breasts with pepper and wrap them individually in cheesecloth. Tie one end with a piece of string which you can use to hang.
  6. Hang in a cool place (50-60 degrees) with relative humidity for 5-7days until the flesh is stiff but not hard throughout. Remove from the cheesecloth and slice thinly to serve. These will keep refrigerated for about one month or so.
http://georgiapellegrini.com/2010/03/23/recipes/duck-prosciutto/

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Comments

  1. Georgia, Thank you! Thank you! I saw a recipe the other day that used duck proscuitto.And I said "Where in the hell am I going to get duck proscuitto?" Now! Where did I see that recipe.:)

  2. Charles Perry says:

    Can Venison be done this way?

    • Georgia says:

      Hi Charles – yes, venison can be done similarly, though I'd use some other aromatics like garlic and juniper berries. I'll make it one of these days and post it for ya.

  3. matt igoe says:

    I raise ducks and I'm looking for a salami maker to make duck salami. Do you do this type of work? Thanks, Matt

    • Georgia says:

      Hi Matt, I actually do make this sort of thing for myself, but I'm better off introducing you to the person I wrote about in my book who is an incredible producer of dry-cured meats. Shoot me an email if you'd like me to put you in touch! Contact info is above!

  4. I really love your blog and you making curing meat seem so simple! I can't wait to try it.

  5. absolutely love your blog…can't wait to try some of these meaty treats…might have to out and get some more duck tomorrow.

  6. Georgia, I loved this post and your one about curing salmon. I'm a stickler for food safety and I'm just concerned about eating "raw" home-cured meats and fish (especially with the duck sitting out, exposed to the nasty city air). Any thoughts for me? How do I ensure that my cured foods end up safe?

    Also, can I do this with pork to make real prosciutto? What cut of pork would I use?

    • Hi Josh,
      I would recommend buying a book which provides guidelines on temperature and humidity. Michael Ruhlman has a good one called "Charcuterie." There's also one by River Cottage called "Meat," and one called "Cooking by Hand." For duck, you want to hang the meat in a cool place (45-65 degrees F), with high humidity (60-80 percent). You can actually buy a curing fridge to help you be consistent and safe. For hog prosciutto you use the ham, there are two of those on the hind quarters of a pig. White mold is your friend, black and green mold are bad, and you'll want to wipe that off with an alcohol soaked cloth. Happy curing!

  7. can this recipe be done with wild duck? I am assuming this is recipe uses farm raised birds. I am an avid duck hunter and I would love to try this. However, I am a bit concerned since wild duck is much much darker and certainly more gamey. Thoughts?

  8. Hi,
    I really fell in love with this recipe and I’m about to order some duck breasts at my local butcher…I just wanted to ask you for the weight of the fillets you used, so that I can get a feeling how long to dry mine.
    Thank you!

    • Oh dear… it’s been a while, but I would guess that combined they were about 1 pound. The density of meat can be different from bird to bird though so I would go with feeling how firm it becomes as it cures. Good luck! It’s a fun adventure.

  9. Well, I gave the wild duck prosciutto a shot. I wasn’t sure how to do the cure step but I used a big cooler, filled the bottom with ice, hung the breasts on a strap and closed the top on the strap to keep them above the ice. I just added ice once a day and it worked out pretty well. They did retain the gamey taste though but I am not averse to it. Tastes just like salted wild duck.

    • Georgia says:

      Oh good! I’m going to work on a tutorial for you on how to make a homemade curing fridge. Promise! Just been a busy gal these days.

  10. I’ve always wanted to do this with venison. Would you recommend it? I was wondering if instead of wrapping it in cheese cloth, I could wrap it in caul fat. What do you think?

    • I’ve never used caul fat for prosciutto, I think you may have an issue in that the fat would inhibit the drying process. You could definitely make this recipe with a nice venison back strap. Let us know how it turns out!

  11. Hey Georgina! This looks like an excellent recipe. Do you think it would work on goose breasts?

  12. I wonder if this would be a way to make diving duck taste good? Maybe brine the breasts, then (maybe boil?) then follow Georgia’s recipe.

    • Just finished makin duck prosiutto from your recipe. I only used one breast for my first attempt. I used mallard and it was a hit with my guest. My only regret is using the one breast. I found it taste better after a few days in the refrigerator. Keep coming with the recipes and I look forward to your next book as I read “Girl Hunter” 3 times.