Monday, November 10, 2008

The Cure

We have been very excited the last few weeks in the kitchen at Tastings. We seem to have discovered a new love of charcuterie. I have written about our pig head adventure and after a great "testa" we wanted more. We now have hanging in the walk in cooler our version of duck prosciutto. We took one recipe but cured the duck two different ways. The first we let cure for 24 hours, the second we let cure for 48 hours. We used .7 oz of kosher salt for every pound of duck meat( breast) fresh garlic, peppercorns, juniper berries and coriander seed. After drying them we now have them hung wrapped in cheesecloth in our walk in. We took a piece out after 7 days, very clean smelling but still "raw" looking. The taste was definitely along the lines of a slightly gamey prosciutto, but still very chewy. The next one we tried was taken out after 11 days in the walk in. What a difference! The skin had now taken on a slightly darker color, still very clean smelling but much firmer. the flesh was slightly tighter ad the flavor had deepened slightly. The last batch we will take out tomorrow, 14 days. We will freeze the breasts this will allow us to slice the duck paper thin. We will be using the duck for our first Wine Dinner taking place this Wednesday with Duckhorn Vineyards from Napa.We are using the duck prosciutto on a dish of brown sugar braised figs, great hill blue cheese foam and rye crisps.

Another project right now is making our own pancetta. We currently have a berkshire pork belly curing in the walk in, this one has to hang for 4-6 weeks. We are exploring some sausage making and hopefully soon our own salumi will follow. Ill keep you all posted.

Recipe for Duck Prosciutto

Salt/Spice Cure:

Ratio: This is an important part of any cured meat recipe. The salt ratio is especially important, the spice and garlic ratio which follows less so. Weigh you duck breasts and salt very carefully.

Per pound of Duck:

.7 OZ salt per pound of duck breast

10 juniper berries
½ bay leaf
1 tsp coriander seed (crushed)
10 black peppercorns (crushed)
1 clove garlic (crushed)

Crush to medium-fine juniper, bay leaf, coriander, peppercorns and garlic in mortar and pestle. Add salt and mix thoroughly.

Each Breast: Place large square plastic wrap on counter. Place breast on wrap and place ½ of mixture on breast, skin side, spreading so it coats evenly. Turn over and repeat with flesh side. Roll wrap up tightly and seal edges and repeat if more than 1 breast. Cure under refrigeration for 24 hours.

Air Cure:

Wipe cure off meat – do not rinse. Place breast on large square of cheesecloth and wrap cheesecloth around breast, make sure the cheesecloth fully covers meat. Place butchers twine around breast and secure breast as if it were a roast, leaving a 6” piece of twine free at one end. Hang in dry cooler at 38F for two weeks. Remove from cheesecloth, wrap in plastic and cut in paper-thin slices, freezing helps obtain paper thin cuts

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