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.
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.