Duck prosciutto, revisted.

Inspired by this thread, wherein Dead Badger made some duck prosciutto with such ease and goodness s/he had to post about it and make everyone who read it hungry, I gave it the ol’ college try, and just took it down from the rafters today.

My question to those who have made it (or know anything about charcuterie or curing meats), does it look done? I’m a neophyte at this, and while death-by-cold-cuts seems like a decent way to go, I admit when faced with a possibly agonizing gastro-intestinal demise, I hesitate. Who among us wouldn’t?

It looks like the outside is really dry and the inside is overly moist.

Hopefully DB will weigh in with an experienced opinion.

It looks pretty good to me. Is the inside part squishy or firm?

Well… it’s neither squishy nor firm! :stuck_out_tongue: It’s definitely not as squishy as it was when it was raw (when I put it into a container and covered it with salt), and the middle isn’t as firm as the dark ring of the outside. If I push my finger into the middle, lighter part, it’ll hold there like a foam pillow, and then resets after a while, but not all the way. If that makes sense. Thanks for the replies so far.

Weird, I come back here for the first time in a while and find this. Excellent. That’s a bloody massive duck breast. I think mine were half that size. Or you have really tiny hands and a toy stove. :slight_smile:

Anyway, I’m no expert - I’ve only done this once, so we’re in the same boat. I agree with LouiseE though; it does look a bit moist still in the centre, and a bit dry on the outside. I had much the same problem, albeit to a slightly lesser degree. Because my attic is cool but pretty dry, I hung the breasts in a cardboard box on its side, put a cup of water in there and covered it all with a teatowel. If I were doing it again I’d probably dampen the teatowel. It still tasted great, mind you. My book says if it’s still squishy in the middle (and it sounds at least a bit squishy) then it’s fine to give it another day or two drying. How many days has it been drying so far?

Here’s a photo on (a food community where Michael Ruhlman, the guy who wrote the Charcuterie book, often posts), which I think illustrates pretty much how it ought to look.

Oh, and here’s the hundred-page egullet thread where they try all the recipes in the book. This thread is pretty much the reason my flatmates all of a sudden found themselves contending with a house full of meat. I’ve linked to the first post I can find where someone tries the duck prosciutto.

This thread makes me wish I didn’t live in a Japanese apartment. (I assume a dark closet isn’t good enough for curing the meat in).

I’m not an expert, either, although I’ve done longer (30+ day) cures like pancetta and guanciale. Given that description, it does sound like it’s still slightly a bit moister than it should be. (And I agree, that’s a massive and succulent-looking breast. OK, who’s going to pull that quote from context first?)

The type of drying I get in my cured meats looks more even throughout. I don’t control for humidity, but my house right now is at 60% and seems to be in that level most of the time. Do you have any idea what the humidity wherever you hang your meat is?

The breast hanged for seven days; I was considering hanging it longer, but when I poked it, as you can imagine, it didn’t have much “give” to it (because the outside was pretty dry). So I took it down, sliced it open, and came to the realization that I didn’t know what I was looking at. So I came here!

I nailed the little cheesecloth-wrapped package in the wood beams of my furnace room. So it’s in the basement, not damp or humid really. I noticed after taking it down that where I nailed it up was pretty close to a heating duct, so maybe that contributed to the outside drying out. I can rewrap it and let it hang for a few more days. I will say that the sheer amount of fat on it has to be contributing to the resilience of the moistness. When I rehang it, I’ll nail it somewhere away from a duct. :stuck_out_tongue:

So it was kinda greasy, then?

Thing is, I suspect at this point the dry bit is forming a kind of crust that’ll prevent more moisture getting out, so you may not ever get the middle quite right on this batch (it should still taste fine, though). But yeah, it wants to be hung up in a cool place; next to a heating duct sounds less than ideal, and a furnace room sounds like the opposite of what you want. I was told 10-15[sup]o[/sup]C is good, which is about 50-60[sup]o[/sup]F.

And yeah, I can see how that fat cap would impede drying on that side somewhat. I think perhaps with breasts that thick you might have to dry them a bit slower, just because the moisture in the middle has further to travel. Purely a guess though, I’ve got no experience with big breasts.

Typed that all with a straight face, I must be getting old…

Well, I did cut into it as seen in the pic, so maybe that created an entry point for more moisture to exit. I’m happy, DB, you were able to link to a pic, as that helps me know what it’s supposed to look like. :wink:

I rehanged it, in the furnace room again, but this time away from any ducts or piping. I did notice that my closet is actually very cool (it has a trapdoor in the ceiling to the attic, which isn’t normally accessible), so maybe I could hang my tries in there…

Alright, I took the breast down again after an additional 3 days of curing (this time away from any heat source), and I have to say, it looks exactly the same. :stuck_out_tongue: Also, it kinda smells like a wet dog; not particularly appetizing. I really think that the amount of fat on the breast is keeping it from drying out. Is this a lost cause?

Should I have let it sit in the salt for an extra day or two, to maybe dry out the fat a bit more? I have another duck breast in the freezer (which I bought explicitly for this project), but it’s about the same size/fattiness of this first try. Do we think this first one is salvageable, or is it fine the way it is and I have the culinary tastes of a barbarian? Thanks again for the replies!