This post kicks off Charcutepalooza with our project for January – Duck Prosciutto. This is an easy way to limber up for The Year of Meat. It’s an eight day project with no special tools required other than a cool, marginally humid location, 50-60° F. I use my garage, but have to watch carefully at this time of year, as it sometimes drops to 40°, making this process take a little longer. Others are reporting good success with wine refrigerators. If you just don’t have a spot, we’ll be on to the next challenge in a few days. (Speaking of our next challenge, we’ll be revealing the project on January 15th. Now is a good time to order pink salt.)
In these photos, you’ll see I used the packaged Moulard duck breasts. I also purchased a whole duck, as I had plans for the other parts. I realize I was fortunate – here in Washington, DC, Eastern Market has duck almost all the time. Some of my favorite farmers also have duck from time to time, although they are less likely to have it at this time of year.
Remember, even previously frozen duck breasts will work well here, but beware any that have been injected with brine prior to freezing. The two Moulard breasts cost $23. The whole duck cost $25., and those breasts were quite a bit smaller (200g vs 380g.)
I broke down the whole duck, making more prosciutto with those breasts – they’ll be ready next week. With these, just for fun, I flavored one with ancho chili and soaked the cheesecloth in tequila. The other is wrapped in fresh thyme and the cheesecloth was soaked in Armagnac. I have no idea how they will come out, but, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
With the rest of that duck, I made Red Cooked Duck with the leg quarters (OMG wonderful.) I made a teeny tiny duck liver terrine with apples, rendered all the fat for potato roasting and frying (YUM) and, then, with the carcass, Autumn Stock from Amanda Hesser’s lovely cookbook The Cook and The Gardener. Ultimately, that stock will be used for chicken and dumplings or chicken pot pie.
You’ll need kosher salt, cheesecloth, twine and a scale. Ruhlman suggests flavoring with white pepper. I’ve used – at different times – white pepper; fresh thyme; lemongrass with Kaffir lime; juniper and allspice; and, Chinese five spice. Each imparts a glorious taste to the meat.
After reading the recipe and exploring the photos on Ruhlman’s post about duck prosciutto, I noticed he scored the duck breast, as you might if you were cooking it fresh. This makes perfect sense, as you want the salt to be absorbed into the flesh – so make sure to score before you slather on the salt.
Note that you may need up to 3 cups of salt. Finding the perfect container for the two breasts, ensuring they are not touching, but still snug, will keep the salt use in check.
I wrapped the duck in cheesecloth after a day basking in the salt, weighing each breast first. I hung them in the garage (keep the twine ends long enough to tie to a hook, rafter or, in my case, the steel shelf edge. In the past, I’ve allowed the duck to cure too long, seeking the firm flesh noted in the book. Results were mixed until I started weighing before and after, watching for a 30% reduction.
Truly, this couldn’t be easier.
Once cured, your duck prosciutto will freeze and hold up to three months without diminishing flavor, texture or taste. I haven’t held on to any for more than three months. If you do freeze it, take full advantage and slice super thin before the prosciutto fully defrosts.)
And – here’s one of my favorite ways to use duck prosciutto. (Kim said she’s thinking about individually sized mini pizzas with quail eggs as as appetizer at her New Year’s Eve party. I love how she thinks.)
Okay, now it’s your turn. Post by January 15th. Tag with ‘charcutepalooza’ and, please post to our Facebook page (and “Like” it, too!)
Duck Carbonara Pizza
Pizza crust to make two 8” pizzas:
1-1/2 t active dry yeast
1 c warm water
3 T olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 T chopped chives
2 to 2-1/2 c all purpose flour
Olive oil for the bowl
Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and allow it to sit and bloom for 5 minutes, until small bubbles start to form.
Add one cup of the flour and stir well. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
Add another cup of the flour and the herbs and alt and stir to a shaggy mass. Turn out to a floured countertop or board and allow the dough to rest and absorb the flour while you rinse out the bowl, dry well and lightly oil it. (About 10 minutes.)
Gently turn and knead the dough until it’s smooth. Try to add as little additional flour as possible, as adding flour at this point can make your crust heavy. Don’t worry if it’s a little sticky.
Turn to coat in the oil in the bowl, then cover and allow it to rise for an hour.
Note: I often make pizza crust as far as two days ahead, and allow for a very slow cold rise in the refrigerator for a more sour, developed taste. I’ll spray the inside of a zip lock bag with PAM and then put the dough in the bag, zipping it almost all the way closed and refrigerate. Do leave the bag partly open as the dough will expand and you’ll hear a loud THUD from the fridge at some point, when the bag explodes!
For the pizza:
1 pizza dough (above)
1/2 – 1 c pesto – I like to use arugula pesto, but traditional basil/pine nut is fine
2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced and blanched for 2-3 minutes
6 oz thinly sliced duck prosciutto
1 large ball of fresh mozzerella, torn into several hunks
8 c baby arugula
2 large eggs, exceptionally fresh (if you can find duck eggs – perfection!)
Parmesian, grated and curls
Olive oil to drizzle and brush
Salt and pepper, to taste
The dough should be at room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450°
Place pizza stone in the oven to heat up at least 30 minutes before baking.
Form your pizza dough into two rounds or rectangles or whatever shape you like.
Let the dough rest for about 20 minutes.
Assemble the pizza:
Schmear pesto across the pizza dough, or drop by the tablespoon here and there. Leave the edges bare.
Fan out the potato slices across the pesto.
Divide the duck proscuitto between the two pizzas.
Scatter the mozzerella pieces over the top.
Add a pinch of crushed red pepper.
Brush the edges with olive oil.
Slide the pizzas into the oven for 10 minutes.
Slide the pizzas out, quickly dress the top of the pizza with the arugula making a little nest in the center.
Crack one egg at a time into a small bowl.
Carefully snuggle each egg into the nest of arugula, drizzle the whole thing with olive oil, and then carefully slide the pizzas back in the oven.
Bake an additional 6-8 minutes, until the egg is cooked to your liking.
As soon as the pizzas come out, sprinkle the egg yolk with good salt and shave parmesian curls over the top. Serve.