Charcutepalooza: Duck prosciutto

Neil is no stranger to charcuterie, having been the bacon and pancetta maker when we participated in Michael Ruhlman’s BLT from scratch challenge back when ELTW was in its infancy.  I bought him Ruhlman’s book, Charcuterie, but to date, we’ve only ventured as far as that one challenge.  So when I saw my lovely friends Kim and Cathy chatting on Twitter over the holidays about “making 2011 the year of meat” using Ruhlman’s book, I immediately signed us up.  Then I told Neil LOL!  Fortunately he is a jolly good sport (well, and it involves meat!) so it looks like we’re making meat with the Charcutepalooza crew every month this year!

January’s challenge was duck prosciutto.  Which worked out well since I needed duck for the latest Daring Cooks’ challenge, cassoulet and duck confit.  We literally got to work the day after we arrived home from Mexico and since it only takes around 8 days to cure, we just scraped in just in time to post for this month.

Neil did actually all of the work in this challenge since he is so adept at breaking down poultry and dealing with things in gauze in the cellar (wait, that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?).

Duck prosciutto is very easy – you salt the breasts overnight, then rinse them off and pat dry, then add whatever herbs and spices you like and wrap them in gauze for about 8 days or until they have lost about 30% of their weight.  Neil used juniper berries, kaffir lime leaves, Australian crushed black peppercorns and a touch of cloves on one breast and cracked peppercorns by themselves on the other. We kept checking the weight and the feel of the duck every couple of days…

I posted that picture on Twitter and someone mentioned it looked like an underground lab. Well, kind of. It’s our cellar. And it’s scary and dark. And a bit damp.

Finally it looked (and felt) like they were ready…

Yeah, it’s not the most attractive, is it?

But when you slice it…

It *does* look lovely. Looks like it is supposed to. A little dry and jerky-esque around some of the edges and VERY fatty but the meat is tender and flavourful – you could really taste the kaffir lime leaves – and the right texture.  Me, a non duck eater, well I would not have known it was duck had I not, well, known. It’s definitely a stronger flavour than pork but not overly “ducky” (which is funny because I found the confited duck to be quite overpowering…)

Quality control, you know.  She wasn’t entirely sure. Fussy little miss!

We took some to friends for a nibble on Saturday night and they gave it the seal of approval. Then Neil whipped up one of his signature pasta dishes…

Spicy tomato sauce for pasta with chanterelles and duck prosciutto.

This is a perfect product to cook with  – the fat means you don’t need any extra oil or butter – and it cooked into the sauce without going too crispy, so there’s a definite “chew factor” there still – you can taste it’s prosciutto and not just fried bacon or whatever.  It’s definitely the star of the dish.

I can see some pizzas in our near future too. Endless possibilities!

Want to join us?  Buy Charcuterie on Amazon Canada or Amazon US and see all the Charcutepalooza details here.

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64 Responses to Charcutepalooza: Duck prosciutto

  1. fooddreamer January 17, 2011 at 06:55 #

    Awesome, simply awesome. I don’t know that I am ready to tackle such an endeavour, but I am saving this post for the day that I might be!

  2. cat January 17, 2011 at 07:27 #

    well done, mr. neil! if we lived closer, i know steve would be neil’s charcuterie apprentice; after all, he is someone who thinks salted and cured meats should be their own food group . . .

    • Mr. Neil January 17, 2011 at 10:12 #

      You mean – they aren’t?!?!?

      Steve should have been here for the cured and smoked salmon I did in December. Cleo went NUTS!

  3. Lael Hazan @educatedpalate January 17, 2011 at 07:32 #

    Congratulations! I keep wanting to make this, I hope I’ll be as brave!

  4. Belinda @zomppa January 17, 2011 at 07:47 #

    You guys definitely stepped up to that challenge – incredible! I would never have thought to use keffir lime leaves.

  5. Stephanie January 17, 2011 at 08:15 #

    Looks wonderful. I’m so intrigued by all this charcuterie (plus, I just like how I feel so fancy saying it). Sounds like an awesome experience! Excited to see what’s up next month!

  6. Judy January 17, 2011 at 08:45 #

    still waiting for mine– am sooooo excited

  7. Sara @CaffeIna January 17, 2011 at 12:27 #

    WOW! I’m impressed! I don’t think I could make something like this. It seems too complicated for my limited patience. I could totally eat it though, so if you guys will make this stuff (or similar) once per month and can’t finish it, please let me know!

  8. Kate @ Diethood.com January 17, 2011 at 12:34 #

    Duck prosciutto – that’s incredible! It looks amazing and I love the combination of flavors that you used. We make prosciutto all the time, but I’ve never made a duck one…it’s never too late to try. Thank you!

  9. Nancy/SpicieFoodie January 17, 2011 at 13:18 #

    Your Duck prosciutto looks so delicious! What a great event and such great benefits from it:) The photo of your cat is so adorable. Wow it only took 8 days to cure? I would think it would be longer. Will be looking forward to your other recipes from the event.

  10. A Canadian Foodie January 17, 2011 at 13:24 #

    Excellent Challenge and excellent results. My husband’s family does all things meat – even their own smoke house – but not duck. I love duck. I don’t eat meat (digestion issues) but love it. This looks incredible. Standing ovation to you both!

  11. Potato Chops and Boneless Chicken January 17, 2011 at 14:52 #

    Looks amazing. The colour is just gorgeous. You make it sound so easy. Must give it a try.

  12. Jean January 17, 2011 at 15:30 #

    Wow…just wow. I thought that 2011 would be the year of meat for me, too. This book was one of the biggest items on my wish list and yes, I got it. 🙂 Now I just need to get started on making something out of it. Guanciale was on top of the list but I’m having so much difficulty finding a pork jowl. I might have a go at this instead. This looks marvelous!

    • Mr. Neil January 17, 2011 at 15:46 #

      It’s worth seeking out: we did that last year too. Mmmm.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite January 19, 2011 at 22:05 #

      Neil is right, worth seeking out!

  13. Elle (Bromography) January 17, 2011 at 16:53 #

    How daring and delicious! I love cured meats, but have not had the courage to try the process myself. You make it look easy.

  14. Emiko January 17, 2011 at 17:25 #

    BEAUTIFUL pics! Love it, I’m totally inspired to join the challenge. Living in Tuscany, charcuterie is coming out of our ears here, I don’t think my hubby could live without it so we’re just learning recently to make our own. Thanks for sharing this; definitely one to try.

  15. penny aka jeroxie January 17, 2011 at 18:47 #

    Super jealous that you have a cellar! So cool to make your own duck prosciutto.

  16. Nancy@acommunaltable January 17, 2011 at 19:39 #

    Fabulous!!! The pictures truly made my mouth water!! I would love to try this but I don’t really have anywhere to cure the duck – it is just too warm here in So. Cal (high today was 80 degrees – yikes!!)

    So, I guess I’ll just have to enjoy it vicariously.. looking forward to the next production!!

  17. Anna Johnston January 17, 2011 at 20:01 #

    Well done Mardi & Neil with the duck prosciutto, gorgeous colour to it & I can imagine the ideas would be limitless to use it up.
    I’m keen to pick up Ruhlmans book, I keep spotting amazing meat curing ideas & all roads lead back to Ruhlman. Thanks for sharing & will be following along the Meat trail with you. Good luck with it girlfriend 🙂

  18. stephirey January 17, 2011 at 21:18 #

    Oh dear…I kind of wish I hadn’t seen this post. Don’t get me wrong…your duck prosciutto looks absolutely amazing…but now I think I have to participate in Charcutepalooza too! I’ll go buy the book tomorrow and see if I’m really up for this type of challenge. Thanks for the inspiration!!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite January 19, 2011 at 22:03 #

      It really is so much easier than it looks – a couple of specialty ingredients and a whole lotta meat and patience!

  19. something_good January 18, 2011 at 03:03 #

    come on, it’s too much for me to see this before breakfast! it looks amazing!!!

  20. Ben January 18, 2011 at 09:12 #

    OMG That looks so delicious. I love the first picture!

  21. Bonita January 18, 2011 at 12:06 #

    That is one incredible looking piece of duck prosciutto Mardi. Great stuff. Congrats on yet accomplishing another challenge!

    I adore duck prosciutto…there’s something so incredibly satisfying about the silkiness of cured meat and fat. Mmmm….

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite January 19, 2011 at 22:03 #

      Yes I was so pleased it had the right texture – that’s a great word for it, “silky”…

  22. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction January 18, 2011 at 21:12 #


    If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was looking at something Linda wrote here. 🙂 That duck prosciutto looks pretty incredible.

  23. Dan Clapson January 18, 2011 at 21:22 #

    That looks beautiful Mardi! I think I’m going to try it out too! Congrats on the CNN acknowledgement. 🙂


  24. Corinne @ Degustinations January 19, 2011 at 00:00 #

    Wow… you make it look easy but I wouldn’t be game to try. And it looks very appetising!

  25. Kate @ Diethood.com January 19, 2011 at 09:36 #

    Congrats! I just saw on CNN! 🙂 Did you do the happy dance? I would be dancing all day long! 🙂

  26. Mark January 21, 2011 at 14:07 #

    Nice work. Its been so long since I’ve had good dusk. You stirred my appetite.

  27. Maria at Fresh Eats February 3, 2011 at 15:45 #

    Mardi, the pasta and duck prosciutto are both simply gorgeous. Looking forward to the Year of Meat!

  28. s. February 15, 2011 at 20:29 #

    I have duck envy! Absolutely stunning fat on your prosciutto. 🙂

  29. Ken Broadhurst February 20, 2011 at 05:37 #

    You can get duck prosciutto in the supermarkets in France. I know that’s not the point, but it’s so good and not expensive. By the way, I’ve never had confit de canard that had any strong taste at all. It’s very mild, almost bland, if sometimes salty.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite February 20, 2011 at 07:43 #

      Hi Ken and thanks for commenting.

      I , too lived in France for many years and they range of charcuterie available is just mind-blowing compared to here. I envy you! But you are right, the point of Charcutepalooza is not that it’s cheap to buy in some places, it’s learning to make these things from scratch, and honestly, even if this was easily available here, I still think I would make it myself next time too. So easy, so tasty.

      Re: the confit, since duck is something I never eat, it’s possible that the “strong’ I was experiencing was simply “different”. Neil, who eats everything, said it was not strong at all, so I guess it might just be me.

  30. JazzRules April 12, 2011 at 23:14 #

    Fabulous looking Duck Prosciutto! I had this once on a photoshoot homemade by Ming Tsai himself. Check it out here.

  31. Aaron February 7, 2013 at 14:45 #

    I am working on some duck prosciutto and am having some issues. Can I email you to discuss and get your opinion instead of posting it here?

    • Mardi Michels February 7, 2013 at 16:55 #

      You can click on the “Contact me” form to get in touch.


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