Home cured duck prosciutto!

I have read through Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's book Charcuterie several times and have been dying to do some curing of my own! However, the one recurring obstacle seems to be lack of space, so duck breast seemed to be the simplest for my first dry curing attempt. Not only is the small size ideal considering my lack of space but it is also easy to procure. Plus I thought, 'If I screw this up, I am only down $20 for the cost of the duck breast, so why not?'  The original recipe calls for duck breast, salt and pepper and the results are phenomenal.

The process is dead simple - the salt cures the duck and extracts moisture while it concentrates in duck flavor. What you're left with is salty goodness between a delicious layer of fat that if you slice thin enough, literally, melts in your mouth - unreal!! The key is to slice as thin as possible, skin side up on the bias.

Duck Proscuitto close up

Duck Proscuitto at home

Home cured duck prosciutto!

Making Homemade Duck Proscuitto

Just as you would with any prosciutto, you can serve on a cold meat platter, toss it in a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette, throw it between a baguette for a sandwich, wrap it around bite size ripe melon as a hors d'oeuvre or toss it on a pizza as a gourmet topping. My favorite? A slice of duck prosciutto chased with a sip of homebrew, a delicious combination.

Duck Prosciutto Recipe and Technique

1 whole boneless duck breast - skin on, split
~2 cups kosher salt, may need more or less depending on the size of breast  **Do not use table salt
white pepper

  1. Rub the breasts with salt. In a non-reactive dish (large enough to fit both duck breasts without them touching each other), pour in about ½″ of salt to cover bottom of dish. Place the breasts on top of the salt, flesh side down, skin up. Cover the top side with salt. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and cure in refrigerator for 24 hours.
  2. Remove from the fridge, and rinse off salt with cold water. Pat dry well with clean kitchen towel.  At this point, you should measure the weight of each breast. Lightly dust the breasts with white pepper, wrap each breast in a single layer of cheesecloth, and tie with string.
  3. Hang the duck breasts in a cool place with decent humidity. The book calls for 50°F-60°F and humidity of 60% for 7 days. The end product will be breasts about 30% of their initial weight, with stiff but not hard flesh, deep red in color. I rearranged a few things around in my fridge (as this was my best option). For me, at the one week mark the breasts still felt squishy (meaning the center was raw)  and had only lost about 10% of the original weight. By the time it was said and done, it took about 3 weeks until the breasts felt firm to the touch. Curing times will vary based on temperature and humidity of curing environment.

You can certainly create additional flavor by mixing in some herbs and spices in the cure if you wish. Garlic, juniper berry and bay leaf are a classic Western duck flavor profile or, perhaps, a five spice powder if you consider the all mighty Peking-Style roast duck. If you get creative on this one certainly let me know how it goes!

Don't forget to sign up to receive recipe updates. If you like duck, you should try rendering duck fat for some duck fat potatoes. If charcuterie is your thing, you should check out the beef tongue post and corned Beef recipe.
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Thanks for visiting!

12 Responses to “Home Curing Duck Prosciutto”

  1. DennisNo Gravatar Says:

    Oh my, the prosciutto looks lovely, looks delicious! I am inspired to get curing!

  2. SandyNo Gravatar Says:

    wow that looks amazing, great photography! Not duck fan but you have me convinced.

  3. VickiNo Gravatar Says:

    Beautiful! I was surprised at how easy and delicious making your own duck prosciutto was. I need to do it again.

  4. adminNo Gravatar Says:

    @Dennis it is so easy and rewarding. Get it going and let us know how it works.

    @Sandy Thanks, the photo did turn out good, the gift of summer day light savings. It’s ducky good!

    @Vicki did you use any herbs or spices?

  5. VickiNo Gravatar Says:

    Rosemary, juniper, coriander, clove, pepper, star anise. Used this recipe: http://www.them-apples.co.uk/2010/02/duck-prosciutto/

  6. chris laroseNo Gravatar Says:

    duck prosciutto? life must be treating you well :)

  7. adminNo Gravatar Says:

    It’s easy to make, and little goes a long ways my friend. How you been?

  8. LesterNo Gravatar Says:

    I assume you used domestic duck because of the price and the fact that there was fat on it.. I just started some wild mallard. Do you know of anyone that has already tried it with wild game? Also, out of curiosity, what is the reason not to use table salt?

  9. WiscochefNo Gravatar Says:

    Using this for the restaurant- awesome to see it on your site!

  10. Bill HaverfieldNo Gravatar Says:

    Do you mean the final product should be “30% of it’s original weight” (as written), or that it will have lost 30% of it’s original weight? I have my first batch in progress.
    Thanks, Bill

  11. adminNo Gravatar Says:

    Hi Bill, 30% weight loss, in other words 30% of it’s original weight. I trust that it came out great!

  12. Eric BlackwellNo Gravatar Says:

    Ok…that just made it into the “must try” category. Awesome. Thanks for sharing that recipe.

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