If your new to the world of charcuterie, and looking for an easy win this is the project for you. Duck prosciutto was one of our first home curing projects and we were amazed by the quality of charcuterie that could be achieved in the home fridge.
Why Duck Prosciutto?
Prosciutto is of course traditionally from the hind leg of a pig; duck prosciutto, however, comes from the breast of the duck. Duck has incredibly rich flavourful fat which delivers a huge amount of flavour while simultaneously slowing down its drying rate. The balance of fat to meat found on the breast gives it a really decadent mouthfeel, we give it the prosciutto name because of its rich prosciutto-like flavour and texture when eaten.
Quality charcuterie can only be achieved with quality meat, for this project ask your butcher for free-range duck breasts with the skin on. We order a whole duck from The Butchers Quarter in Manchester, trimming the breasts off ourselves, using the rest of the meat for confit or in a stew.
As with all charcuterie projects you can use either an equilibrium curing method or the more traditional salt-box method. We give you the low down on both in our guide to meat curing methods.
For this project, we will run you through an equilibrium cure!
Recipe & Method:
2 skin-on free range duck breast (Roughly 800g)
24g salt, 24g demerara sugar, and 24g spice mix of your choice (we use a mix reminiscent of Chinese 5 spice)
2g sodium nitrate (1/4 teaspoon max)
- Weigh your meat exactly and record. You will need to consult back to this weight, you can use the document we provide in the curing kits
- Calculate 3% of the total weight of meat. Weigh out that amount in salt, and the same amount in sugar and in spices
- Toast and grind your spice mix and combine it with the salt and sugar. To that mix add no more than a 1/4 teaspoon of sodium nitrate. Whisk them together to combine thoroughly
- Scatter about a third of the cure mix onto a tray
- Place the duck breast on top skin side down. Press firmly, then massage in the remainder of the cure, be firm
- Place the duck breast in a zip lock bag along with any remaining cure mix
- Fold over the bag pushing out as much air as possible before zipping shut
- Cure for 3-5 days in the fridge
- After 3-5 days remove the breasts, they should be firm and surrounded by their liquid. If the duck still feels a little soft, you can add more salt, press it in and give it another 24 hours of curing.
- Wash them off and dry
- Wash and dry the duck breast and begin the drying process
If you want to use the saltbox method, simply fully cover your duck in salt for 24 hours. Press the salt on top firmly. The next day make an additional cure mix from the sugar, spices (toasted and ground), and the nitrate. Massage that into the breast and zip lock the bag shut. Cure for another 24 hours.
Drying In Your Home Fridge:
Duck breast has a naturally uniform shape which allows for even drying and means it’ll fit snugly into your fridge without taking up too much space. You might want to tie it though and you can give it an almost cylindrical shape which will help when slicing.
In order to slow the drying of the duck breast * you will need to wrap it in a breathable material, the muslin cloth provided in our kits is ideal. Tie it firmly in loops along with the duck breast. You can then hang the breast using a butcher’s hook (this will mean drying will occur from every inch of its surface) or you can place it on a wire rack. If you choose this method you will need to rotate the meat every couple of days.
*If drying occurs too quickly, the exterior of the meat will harden before the interior has begun losing moisture)
Give your meat 7 days to dry. You will need to weigh it again to ensure it's lost a third of its weight. Once the desired weight has been reached your meat is safe to enjoy. Slice it on a bias and as thinly as your knife skills can muster. Make sure you get a good section of fat and meat on each slice for the full prosciutto like flavour hit.