Duck prosciutto is an old Italian tradition and a great use of duck when you have a glut or treat. Clearly in some area’s meat is scarce in the winter so they developed an easy way to cure it and eat it later.
Some recipes, especially those around Venice cure the leg and thigh of large geese, while others stick to the breast meat. Either way, the result, when done right, creates a dark, rich, almost funky cut of meat that stands out in flavour
This cure is very basic it involves…
• 340g duck breast
• 12g salt – 3% by mass of duck
• 12g dark brown sugar – 3% by mass of duck
• black peppercorns – a few crushed
• bayleaves – couple of fresh ones – not dry – chopped up
• Juniper berries – a few crushed
1. Mix your ingredients
2. Put in a ziplock bag with meat and rub all over through the plastic – no need to get any juices on your fingers
3. Seal the bag with all the air removed
4. Leave in the fridge for about 3-9 days – depends on the size of the breast, they should feel quite firm to the touch and a brine will form
5. Rinse gently and then pat dry.
6. You may at this point leave them dry till a sticky coating has formed (24 hours) then put in a cold smoker for about 6 hours.
7. Put a meat hook through the breast or use a meat needle and string, tie a look and hang in a dry place. You are looking for a temperature to hang 10-18C is best with about 60-80% humidity which is hard. If you struggle on humidity you can make a salty brine in a bowl and sit that directly under the breasts this does add a bit. If the humidity is not high you can massage them a little which helps to even out the moisture, but they may dry on the outside only and be slimy on the inside.
Things to note….
Now mould can grow on meat due to the air and the environment. White mould is good, black mould means you need to toss the meat. Green mould you should wipe away with salt water. Hopefully the environment inside the meat that we have created is quite salty so reduces any chance of anything nasty growing. If you are not sure, have a nibble and wait 24 hours, you will know if you made a mistake!
How long to hang your duck prosciutto? From 2 weeks to 3 months, depending on the size of the breasts and the amount of fat and the temperature and the humidity. If you are a beginner, hang your duck breast in the refrigerator for 2 weeks before eating. It will be tasty, and should whet your appetite for a longer cure later.
Slice it as thin as you can on the diagonal and serve it with melon, figs, good cheese, on top of a fried egg, with bruschetta.
Why bother with a long hang time? Because the longer meat hangs, the more complex it gets: Think about the difference between a nice rosé and Barolo that’s been aging for a generation. So feel free to experiment!