Several years ago, a few friends gathered on New Years Eve and hosted a "Mead Off". Although our somewhat sophisticated competition turned into a 80's dance party, we were, if only for a short time, able to hone in a delicious pairing of wild fruit crafted meads and food. Bone marrow, artisan Maine cheese's, and duck prosciutto made their way onto serving platters and delighted our palettes.
Rewind One Week
Hoping to steal the show, I knew I needed to go over the top to "wow" my friends with my culinary prowess. So, I did what any homesteading hopeful would do, I killed one of my ducks! Gutted, plucked, then broken down, I turned the legs into umami rich confit then broke out the salt and whipped up a batch of duck prosciutto.
After a week of hanging the breast was ready to slice and I am happy to share that my dish won "Best in Show" that evening.
Fast Forward a Few Years
With 15 ducks laying on my counter, I knew it was time to make another batch of prosciutto. Being mid fall, my root cellar was the perfect place to store and hang the pre-salted breasts and in time, turn them into a delicious cured meat. If done properly and cured in the right environment, cured meat is safe and extremely tasty!
How to Make Duck Prosciutto
- 2 duck breasts
- 1 cup of sea salt
- 1 tablespoon herb or spice (rosemary, juniper berries, thyme, etc.)
- cheese cloth
- butchers twine
- a scale
1. First, trim up any excess fat on the sides of the duck breast.
2. Combine the salt and herbs (if using), then pour a half inch layer on the bottom of a non reactive pan. Place the breasts on top of the salt then pour the remaining salt on the top side of the breasts. Use your hands to press in the salt and be sure the entire surface is well coated.
3. Cover, then place the container in the fridge for 2 days. After 24 hours, flip the breast, drain any visible liquid and be sure to keep the breast well coated with salt.
4. After 48 hours, remove the breasts from the salt mixture and rise well under cold water to eliminate all the excess salt. Once complete, pat dry with a towel.
5. Cut a 8-10 inch section of cheesecloth and a foot of butcher's twine.
6. Wrap up each breast then use the twine to secure. Hang for 10-14 days, or until the duck breast loses about 30% of its weight. Once this is achieved, remove the wrap and slice as thin as possible. Ideally the duck should be hung in a room around 50-60°F. With a bit more experience then me, Hank Shaw offers good advice on this process. Check it out here.
When the duck is complete, remove the cheesecloth, check for mold, and serve by slicing as thin as possible. Store in the fridge and use within a few weeks.