Duck Prosciutto

Slices of duck prosciutto, halved grilled figs, arugula, and a few crostini on a wooden serving board.

This duck prosciutto recipe began with my realization that what makes ham taste like itself has less to do with the meat than its cure. My quest for kosher prosciutto—nothing less!—led me first to smoked turkey leg, which is hammy all right, but hardly like the Italian specialty. I went to work, and, happily, scored a triple bull’s-eye by giving duck breast a really easy salt cure—just fifteen minutes of prep followed by a “set-it-and-forget-it” refrigerator stay. The resulting “prosciutto” is so much like the real thing, but with a special character all its own, you’ll be amazed. Try it draped atop sliced melon, wrapped around asparagus spears, or diced and sautéed as a salad garnish.–Geila Hocherman and Arthur Boehm

LC Ducking Duct Tape Note

Glance at this unassuming duck prosciutto recipe, and you may notice something rather unusual, aside from the fact that it calls for making prosciutto out of duck rather than pig. Yup. It relies on that handy dandy, every man’s favorite tool kit mainstay, duct tape. Not as an ingredient, as a means of hoisting the duck from the top of the refrigerator where it needs to dangle for a couple of weeks. If you’re not the duck, er, duct tape type, you can follow the inspired lead of one of our recipe testers, Jo Ann Brown. When Brown was getting ready to hang the meat in the fridge, she sent her husband out to find, in her words, “a super duper suction cup with a hook to hang the meat from.” Not only did he find what she wanted, he brought back two. What a keeper!

Duck Prosciutto

  • Quick Glance
  • (4)
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 4 reviews
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Ingredients


Directions

To make the duck prosciutto, rinse the breast and dry it with paper towels. Scrounge through your cupboards until you find a dish just large enough to hold the duck breast. Make a 1-inch bed of salt on said dish. Place the breast on the salt and cover it with another inch of salt. Cover the entire situation with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

Curing Duck Prosciutto

In a small bowl, combine the coriander, fennel, and pepper. Unwrap the duck breast and, holding it over the sink, rinse it with the vinegar to remove the salt and then rinse it under cold running water. Pat the duck breast completely dry and then rub it all over with the spice mixture.

Wrap the breast in cheesecloth and knot the cloth at both ends. Using sturdy household tape (duct tape works well), attach one end of the cheesecloth to the top of the refrigerator interior or hang the breast from a high refrigerator shelf. Place a small rimmed plate or dish beneath it. Let the duck cure until it feels firm but not dry, about 2 weeks. Thinner or smaller breasts will take less time. Start checking after a week or so.

Using a sharp carving knife, slice the duck prosciutto paper thin or as thin as possible. Drape ribbons of the prosciutto onto a plate and serve with the melon or figs. (The very ends of the cured breast will be quite dry. Save them for flavoring soup.)

Sliced Duck proscuitto

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

I am so bowled over by this recipe. The duck breast is delicious, tender, and tastes like prosciutto, although not as salty as its pork counterpart (that’s a plus). And the skin, that cured fatty skin, it’s rich and divine like fresh lardo. Most of all, what I LOVE about this recipe, is that I feel like a rock star. I can now cure meat. Really, really good cured meat. How awesome is that?? Ding, Dong, Hello my favorite neighbor, I have some home-cured meat for you — enjoy! ROCK STAR. This recipe is the epitome, the archetype of a great recipe — easy, method works perfectly, delicious product and you feel like a pro. Got to go, I am off to change my Facebook status from “mere mortal” to “home-cure superstar.”

WOW. Finally, an easy way to make prosciutto, even if out of duck, and oddly enough, it tastes just like the real thing. Being Portuguese, that is one thing I must say I miss terribly from back home and certainly cannot afford to be buying on a daily basis. The hardest part now is to have to wait two weeks to taste such a great delicacy. One piece of advice is to make sure not to go over the time recommended for the brine, or you will end up with a very salty prosciutto (learned by mistake!)

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Comments

  1. For impatient folk, I recommend using a dehydrator instead of hanging. A week of hanging is equivalent to 14 hours in a cool fan driven dehydrator, I think. If you like the sweet taste of Spanish jamon, you can also experiment with adding some sugar to the curing mixture. I normally use 5 parts salt to 1 of sugar, but have seen recipes that are as high as 2-1.

    1. Hey ncurbanagrarian, oops, quite sorry about that. The cantaloupe or fresh figs (as in the photo) are optional garnishes that go quite terrifically with the duck prosciutto in terms of taste and texture. But strictly optional. Let us know how it goes!

  2. I like this much better than prosciutto, myself. It’s smoother and richer and less salty — all good things. I have a whole duck in my freezer, maybe I’ll confit the rest and try this recipe for the breasts. The seasonings sound wonderful.

    1. I have to agree with Renee against trying to dry age chicken, Queso. As well, chickens are so much more susceptible to harmful bacteria than game birds. We’d rather you not risk a trip to the hospital, or worse.

    2. Queso, I’d advise against using chicken. Duck is such a different beast, literally, than chicken in terms of fat content and flavor and texture and so forth. I really think you’d be quite disappointed.

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