One thing I always feel like I miss out on because I keep kosher is cured meat, especially Italian style cured meats like prosciutto. Years ago in Venice we were lucky enough to find kosher bresaola. It was delicious but I have to admit that the whole time we were eating it we kept saying “this tastes like treif”. Now that kosher bacon has become available and I have gladly introduced that into my culinary repertoire I realize how much depth of flavor salty smoked cured meat can add to a dish. I decided that it was time to try my hand at making my own cured meats.
I had seen recipes for duck prosciutto that looked delicious, and I had a couple of Kol Foods duck breasts in my freezer, so that seemed like the perfect place to start. I have to admit that I am a bit scared of poisoning my family with botulism so I decided to go with the refrigerator method which takes longer but seems safer. (I also don’t have a basement of any room that is cool and dry enough to cure meat).
The process of curing a duck breast is pretty simple. The duck breasts are coated in salt and herbs and left to stand in the refrigerator for at least a day. Then the salt is washed off, the duck is wrapped in cheesecloth and left to hang in the refrigerator for at least two weeks. Then simply cut and enjoy.
I found the duck prosciutto to be quite salty when I tasted it plain, but it was wonderful when used in recipes like prosciutto wrapped asparagus (stay tuned for that and more). I did have a hard time slicing the prosciutto paper thin because I don’t have a slicer, but that didn’t keep us from enjoying it. I will absolutely be making this again next time I have duck breasts.
- Prep Time : 5 minutes
- Yield : approximately one pound
Combine the salt, peppercorns, and the thyme. Place a one inch layer of salt on a plate just big enough to hold the duck breasts. Rinse the duck breasts and pat them try. Place them on the salt layer and coat them completely with the remaining salt. Cover the whole plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24-36 hours.
Remove the duck breasts from the salt and rinse them well. Dry the breasts and place them together with the meat side of each breast in the center and the fat side facing out. Wrap the breasts in cheesecloth and secure it with twine. Hang the twine from the refrigerator in a place where the duck breasts can hang free without touching the shelves or door. If there isn't a good place to attach the twine duck tape can be used to secure the cheesecloth to the underside of a shelf.
Let the duck cure for two weeks, or until it feels firm but not too dry. Slice as thinly as possible using a sharp kitchen knife or electric slicer. (It helps to freeze the duck for 15 minutes or so to firm it up a bit before slicing.)