The confluence of French and Italian Charcuterie
Homemade world class charcuterie at your fingertips in a week.
1 or 2 duck breasts, preferably a meaty breed like Muscovy.
2 lbs. (approx.) of Kosher salt
White Pepper, fine grind
In a non-reactive container, line the bottom with a 1/2" of kosher salt, place the duck breast on top. If preparing more than one duck breast make sure they aren't touching each other or touching the sides of the container. You want full salt coverage. Cover with remaining salt and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
Remove breasts from fridge, rinse all the salt and pat dry. Dust with a nice coating of white pepper and wrap with the cheesecloth. Place in a cool dry place for 7 days, basements with low humidity are great, kitchen cabinets can be used in a pinch. Ideally, we are looking for 60-ish degrees and 60% humidity.
After 7 days, remove breast and slice to eat. You will be blown away something so delicious can be made in a weeks time. It will keep for a few weeks but I doubt it will last that long.
Note: Remember we've been cooking, preparing and preserving foods for over 10,000 years WITHOUT refrigeration. We (especially Americans) have a lot of hang-ups regarding unrefrigerated food. This recipe is removing the water from the duck and creating an environment where mold and bacteria have a really hard time growing.
I've tried this with local Pekin and ducks from my grocer's freezer and it's never quite as good as the heritage breeds. Muscovy has an increased fat layer that lends it well to being submerged in salt. Perhaps a Pekin breed could work well if the cure and drying times were reduced.
Duck prosciutto was my second foray into curing meats after pancetta. It was so easy I wish I would have discovered it first! Our house, built in 1925 is blessed with a cool, low-humidity basement perfect for hanging meats. It's now become a joke among friends about what is hanging in my basement. As of this post, nothing but as the cooler temps come in I'll likely get to experimenting a little more. My first go at salumi ended with crystalized meat sticks, so I'm thinking that will be my next foray into basement charcuterie.