Sunday, April 05, 2009

Duck Proscuitto: The Serving!

For those of you keeping up with the Duck Prosciutto Saga -- Day 1 and Day 2, yesterday, was, well, D-Day. I unwrapped both Thing 1 and Thing 2. I meant to let Thing 2 cure longer, but I also wanted to have enough to share around for a party I was attending on Saturday night. (A bunch of serious food and wine lovers, perfect for experimentation, mwahahaha.) Thing 1 had lost a lot of its weight, possibly more than the 30% Ruhlman recommends. Think 2 was a little plumper. Plus, there was the whole dying of curiosity thing.

Step 1: I unwrapped the both duck breasts from the cheese cloth. The squishiness I'd felt under the wrapping was the fat. The hard part was the meat. I sliced one open and the inside looked deep dark red with glistening beads of fat. A taste? Tastes OK. Smells really good. All systems go.

Step 2: I tried slicing it. I tried slicing it on the bias. I tried straight up and down. I couldn't get anything close to a thin slice. The fat was squishy. The meat was a mess. I stepped away from the prosciutto and called Chris Eley. I also emailed Neal Brown figuring he just lives a couple of block over if I needed emergency help. Both calmly talked me off my prosciutto-slicing ledge. I wrapped everything up tightly in plastic and planned to give it another try later, after I'd had a glass of wine.

Step 3: More calmly this time, I used a super-sharp long, thin knife, and began slicing. It was easier when I cut it with the meat on top instead of the fat. Also, I sliced it on the bias which, once I got in the groove, let me keep trimming off the hard dry outside. I sliced it just like I would smoked salmon. I mangled most of the slices just like I do smoked salmon, too, but at least they were thin. I can't believe I didn't take a picture of the plate. Frankly, I thought there would be some left, but there wasn't. Not a scrap! The best compliment a cook can have -- no leftovers!

All in all, I'd call it a success and I'll absolutely do it again. Chris recommends curing both breasts together with the meat sides together. That should eliminate some of the duck jerky effect on the edges. My cure was good -- salt with crushed juniper berry, clove, anise, and black pepper. Might be fun to try one with Chinese Five-Spice next time. Mmmm. That's an idea. Off to order another magret duck breast.

Recipe and instructions from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing
More pictures of each step at Flickr.

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