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Joao

Curing Duck Prosciutto

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I'm thinking of dry-curing some duck prosciutto for the first time and I've been reading through a lot of blog posts about it.

 

I've noticed that most people who don't have access to a humidity-controlled chamber end up with a very hard surface on the meat due to the overly-dry air. When curing regular prosciutto, most producers avoid this by covering the exposed meat with lard.

 

Has anyone tried covering the exposed meat on the duck breasts with either lard or rendered duck fat?

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I've only made it a couple of times so my experience is limited, but I simply wrapped it in a couple of layers of cheesecloth and let it cure in the fridge. The surface was dry, yeah, but didn't seem noticeably drier than, say, a slab of store-bought prosciutto.


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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The fridge is considerably colder than the recommended temperatures that I've seen for the curing process (10–15ºC, 50–60ºF). This wasn't a problem for you? For how long did you leave it curing in the fridge?

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I make duck prosciutto regularly and, like Chris, cure it in the fridge for about a week (testing regularly for firmness). The outside layer gets a bit dry but it's not an issue, it's not dry to the point of being hard and doesn't need to be trimmed.

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Thank you both.

 

I think I'll try doing 2 breasts at once; one with the exposed meat coated in rendered duck fat and the other one without it.

 

One more question: some of the articles I've seen ask for the layer of fat to be trimmed while others recommend leaving the whole layer. I don't think trimming the fat will have any influence on the curing process itself, but I can imagine it influencing the final weight reduction since the fat layer won't lose as much moisture as the meat. Should I aim for a 30% reduction in weight regardless of what I do to the layer of fat?

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I have not tried duck prosciutto but I have cured a lot of hog jowl for guanciale and pork belly for bacon and pancetta.    I use a refrigerator that is not self-defrosting and I have not had any problem with surface hardening.  I'm sure the relative humidity is higher than a self-defrosting refrigerator which is the typical type in the US. The cure times have up to four weeks.  

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The fridge is considerably colder than the recommended temperatures that I've seen for the curing process (10–15ºC, 50–60ºF). This wasn't a problem for you? For how long did you leave it curing in the fridge?

 

I'm in Australia. For much of the year the choice, unless one wants to purchase something like a wine fridge, is between fridge temperatures and a rather cheerfully warm 'room temperature'. 


Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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I cured mine in the fridge as well with no problem. If you are placing a layer of fat over the meat I suspect you may hinder the curing process to a large extent by forestalling exposure to air (think plunging confit in fat to stop oxidation).


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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You have a good point. The larding step is done in regular prosciutto, but that has a curing time of at least 9 months and the lard is quickly absorbed by the meat. I don't think the curing time for duck prosciutto would be long enough for this to happen and it's likely that it would just prevent exposure to air.

 

Also, unlike regular prosciutto, duck prosciutto isn't treated with sodium nitrite; preventing exposure to air on the surface of the meat could raise the risk of botulism.

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I've been reading up on traditional prosciutto curing and I need to make a correction to my previous post. Not all prosciuttos are treated with sodium nitrite; according to McGee's On Food and Cooking, prosciutto di Parma & San Daniele are cured with sea salt only.

 

Spanish and french hams are indeed treated with sodium nitrite though.

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This si a simple and tasty dish to make. I follow this recipe and it makes very good duck breast prosciutto. Try it next time you are making this and care to yours.

 

Recipe Duck Prosciutto Char.pdf

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