It turns out it's not that hard to find well kept duck after all here in Carrboro. I picked myself up some at Cliff's yesterday. I really wanted a whole duck, to confit the legs and prosciutto the breasts, and make some duck soup. But, all they had were a pretty large pack of frozen duck breasts- which turne out to be two whole duck breasts. Well, there's an embarrassment of riches for you. I might have liked the idea of some simply roasted magret for two of the breasts, but duck isn't anybody's favorite meat in the house - except for me. So, I figured, confit the other two breasts, and I can serve it in small doses on festive occasions, when even my wife might enjoy a mere morsel, rather than a whole breast.
What you see here is basically Round Two of each of the applications I've already done in other meats. The Chicken Prosciutto has been transformed into Duck Prosciutto, the Pork Belly Confit, recast in Duck Breast.
The confit first, since it's now DONE (while the prosciutto has just started hanging, and will have to be updated).
Here's two breasts ready for the confit overnight cure. Some garlic, couple teaspoons of salt (not too much, actually) and some black pepper, bay leaf and allspice berries
Here are the breasts with the mixture applied
And here are the two breasts fully confited.
I left the cured breasts in the fridge overnight, then washed them off before they hit the oven. Now, since I only had the duck breasts, I didn't happen to have any duck fat on hand, so these have been poached in - yes - lovely lard, which I always have on hand (occupational hazard of the pig farming anthropologist). Also, as these are breast meat that has less connective tissue, etc. than cuts that are typically subject to this method, I only poached them in the fat for two hours at 180º. Haven't even tasted them yet, but the errant puddles of pork fat they left behind- they just had to be licked up by somebody - wow, really good. I'm looking forward to crisping these up.
NOW - on to the certified challenge of the month: Duck Prosciutto!
Here's the salted magrets - I'm following the method (if not the recipe) recommended by this Gascon chef. Much simpler than the Chicken Prosciutto recipe I followed- a lot less salt, which I think will be good, because the chicken prosciutto was AWFULLY salty. Tasty, yes, but the salt overpowered the funk of the meat.
From here, I washed off the duck
peppered them up.
and then tied them up pretty simply. No cheesecloth or fancy trussing.
Now, the really exciting new feature of home curing: the Box. As you can see, I just took a large cardboard box (which once housed a lawn mower) and rigged it up to hang the duck in. The water in the bowl will add some humidity, which should keep the meat from desiccating quite as much. My last experience was that the chicken thigh ended up a tad too salty and chewy. I hope that this additional moisture will retain some suppleness in the duck.
Finally, I closed up the box, and covered it with a towel, just to keep it a bit warmer. Again, all for the sake of a slightly slower desiccation, and a richer cure. Everything I've ever hashed up in the garage has been edible, so I trust this will be, too - final report in, oh, 8 days.