Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CharcutePalooza: Duck Prosciutto

   Georgia doesn't see many snow days. So when it does, complete panic ensues. These last few days have been affectionately referred to as The Snowpocalypse around the city. But while everyone else was out hurriedly gathering up enough bread and milk to pave their driveways with (at least, that's what I think they do with it all), I was planning phase one of CharcutePalooza, first installment. Oh, and frolicking in the snow with this guy...


   First, I acquired a duck. The breasts by themselves would have been sufficient, but the whole beast was a much better deal for the money. I broke it down for several different uses.

Waste Nothing

   The skin and fat will be rendered down for cooking (mmm, duck fat fried potatoes), I slow roasted the legs/thighs for enchiladas, the liver will be reserved for pate, the breasts are of course for the curing experiment, and the remaining innards and carcass will be frozen and made into stock at a later date.
   As far as duck prosciutto goes, the process is very simple and straight forward. I totally encrusted the breasts in salt, let them rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours, and rinsed the salt off. At this point you can go straight into hanging them, or you can flavor them if you like.

Duck Breasts

   I decided to rub them with black pepper and garlic powder. I then soaked cheesecloth in brandy and (very badly) tied them up. In my haste to get this recipe started, I forgot to pick up more butchers twine. So I improvised with festive holiday raffia. I'm not sure if it makes the ugly job I did tying the things up better or worse.
   Finally, they were to be weighed and hung. Ideally, you want a somewhat cool and humid place to hang them, around 50 - 60 degrees and 60% humidity. I have a coat closet that roughly meets these standards, so that is where they hang today.

Hello Clarice...

   And there they are. Sorry for the picture quality, the closet does not have lighting. I admit that it is a very strange feeling to have chunks of meat hanging in my coat closet. I am terribly excited about the results, but the process is a tad Hannibal Lectorish. Maybe one day I will have a proper meat suspension enclosure. The whole process should only take about a week if everything goes right, at which point I will post the results. Here's to not getting food poisoning!

Happy Curing!

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