Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 15, 2011, Charcutepalooza Challenge #1: Duck Prosciutto

Duck, Duck, Goose?

Nope, still duck.

In case you don't follow my tweets at Good4thePalate, you need some updating:

I was having a difficult time finding duck breasts in the Annapolis, DC area. 

So, since I am getting started in the process right when everyone else is ending, I would like to at least share my trials so far.

I was finally able to source some duck breast from Vincent at the Dean and Deluca in Georgetown, DC.

Thank the Gods o' Game. 

It's not fresh, local duck, but, I also didn't pay to ship one item here to MD from d'Artagnan for $40 either!! (YES, 1 Full Duck Breast, ie two pieces cost $40, FROZEN). Apparently this duck came on a big truck with lots of other delicious meats, all the way from Cambridge, Massachusetts. That's not so far. AND I only paid approximately $12.65 for two pieces (I am too lazy to go find the receipt and I don't want a tax auditor to see this and argue with me so I am specifying that this is an approximation).

I did notice that the breasts from MA are quite a bit smaller than the d'Artagnan I have purchased in the past at My Butcher and More, the local butcher shop in Annapolis. Not necessarily a problem since they were cheeper. I was running late to work so I didn't have time to contemplate purchasing more until I had already left. If this first batch of Duck Prosciutto goes well, then I'll just try again. These breasts also came with the skin pre-scored, not sure why that is, but I am hoping it won't affect the curing process too much. I have a feeling it may cause a hiccup. No matter, I will try anyway.

It is sad that I will miss out on yummy duck skin. Unless it's still yummy, and or useable after the curing process? Like lardo, or maybe guanciale? Maybe I could add it to some red cabbage for kraut, or a bean soup. Mmmmm

I spent the better part of a week and a half searching high and low for some duck. It turns out that DC folk don't like duck so much. Or I just don't know who to ask. I was able to find whole frozen duckling but the cost of that in comparison to the yield of breast meat is unreasonable. I suppose making a duck stock wouldn't have been awful, and I could certainly have skimmed the fat and saved it for many a pleasurable tricks, but that didn't occur to me until now, and I still think it's probably not worth while. I also found frozen duck fillets but clearly I need a whole breast in this instance. Really, I see no point for sliced duck pieces at all. Buy duck breast, score, season, sear, rest, slice, serve. Simple.

I used to purchase duck from The Butcher Block in Annapolis, but alas, they shut down. This makes me sad because while I do love Mike's meat at My Butcher and More, Mike doesn't keep duck breast in stock.

I soo miss my Parisian market trips where a fresh duck was hanging on the stall, waiting to be chosen by me, so that the butcher might pluck and slice the beautiful bird breasts one by one, off the little ducky carcass, expressly for my dining pleasure.

So anyway, I contacted Dean and Deluca bright and early the other morning and sped mightily into the DC traffic jams that made it take 20min to go 2miles. Ugh.

I ran in, ran out, and ran to work.

Duck proscuitto really couldn't be more simple. You put duck in a dish with salt on bottom, and salt on top, let it hang out for 24hrs. Then you wash, dry, and hang in a 50º - 60ºF area. Once the breasts are firm, or it has been 8 days, or both, then you are done. Slice and Savor. 

Day 1: Sodium
How'd that get in there? This is the Butternut Squash soup I made while waiting for my dad to come help me hang the duck up. I used the left over roasted squash from my butternut squash, mushroom, and thyme risotto with macadamia nuts. DOUBLE delicious. Got like 8 meals out of one of those pre-cut containers of squash. BTW those are a great idea when you are going to cook at someone else's house and you don't expect sharp knives, and they are less per pound than a whole squash.

Duck in Salt

VERY EXCITING, Duck Covered by Salt

Day 2: Wash, Dry, Hang:
Tools of the Trade

I forget the right way to tie meat

Right now I am on day 3. I got a thermometer. The temp in my room has been between 52ºF and 57ºF. The breasts dont really look much different yet, No smells, just meat hanging out. 


I am well on my way to Duck Prosciutto. Now I have to plan a meal around it. 

I will keep you updated as I check back in.

And now, I bid you adieu. I am going to go check on my laundry and beets and shower so I can go purchase food for eating while I watch the game.

The Ravens Game... not the duck. 

Oh how I love bad puns. 


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  1. I love this post and how hopeful you look holding up your duck breast. I had good luck with my tiny ones. By the way, I love the sweater you are wearing in your picture (I am also a knitter and notice sweaters).

  2. Janis, it's the MOST comfy sweater ever! From AllSaints Spitalfields.

    And of course I am enthusiastic about the duck! I can't wait to try it.