Duck Ham Hanging One last duck splurge: had some shots of a recent duck prosciutto to share.  A magret duck breast packed in salt, rinsed, dried and hung for a week. Magrets are the breasts from ducks raised for foie gras—they're thick and rich with a thick layer of delicious fat.  They're fantastic grilled and served medium rare like a strip steak.  They're also terrific to dry-cure.

And it's not more difficult than I've said before.  It should always be sliced thinly.  It goes great as a garnish for salad or makes an excellent canape, served on toasted crouton spread with a little dijon.

Regrettably mine, pictured below (pix by donna), went several days over—oops, wasn’t paying attention, and, in the dry kitchen where I’d hung it, it got a little to dry along the edges, almost jerky-ish, as you can see.  Still tasty but not perfect.  One reader of this blog didn't like his version of the dry-cure, so he sauteed it and loved the results—if you served this at a restaurant you could bill it as duck pancetta, especially if you gave it some additional seasonings in the dry cure, which I would encourage.

The magret here, a gift from Mom—thanks Mom!—came from D'Artagnan, a great source for all kinds of finer fowl products—legs to confit (see previous post), duck fat, foie.

I think I already explained recipe and method but in response to comment and for those who want to try it, complete recipe is in Charcuterie, but it's no more difficult than this: pack one duck breast in kosher salt, cover and refrigerate 24 hours.  Remove from salt, rinse it, dry it, wrap in cheesecloth and hang for a week or so.  A general rule is dry-cured products are done when they lose 30% of their weight.  If you're concerned, weigh your breast before you hang to dry and record the weight.

Also: Jason Song wrote a great article about trying to live lean on the groceries, part of which included a strategy for making your own bacon.  They got so much mail about it, most of it asking for the bacon recipe, they reprinted it, again, from the book.

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49 Wonderful responses to “Duck Prosciutto”

  • linda

    Two fresh Muscovy breasts are gleaming in my refrigerator awaiting their salty rubdown. They are entirely indebted to you, Ruhlman, for this glorious icing on their fate. It’s as though my fridge is their purgatory and they’re about to be transported to paradiso once i coat their fat little bodies in a fine mixture of murray river pink salt, garden juniper berries, decadent smoked halen mon, and a few secret spices of my own. I shall report back…

  • Max

    I would appreciate some advice. I’m curing two Magret breasts, each about 300 gm. They have now been hanging for a week with very little change in weight. One is 10 gm. less than when I began the other is only down 3 gm. Too late I realize that I used way more cheese cloth than called for. This must be preventing the moisture from leaving the meat. On the other hand, they both smell wonderful, just like prosciutto from a deli. They feel firm when pressed and have a little flex but feel very far from raw. Do I remove the extra cheese cloth allowing them to dry more quickly? Do I leave well enough alone and allow them to dry at the present rate? Do I cut them down and serve as is? Your recommendation would be much appreciated.

  • gabe

    Hey Mike, I just wanted to drop a note that due to your post I gave duck prosciutto a shot. It was very good. On my second attempt I served it at a dinner wrapped around Purple Cherokee Heirlooms and Daikon sprouts and it was transcendent. The salt and fat and chewy texture of the prosciutto, the sweetness and firmness of the tomato (this variety has very low acidity) and the crunch and mild spice of the sprouts matched perfectly. Simple, elegant, delicious.

  • Andrew Pember

    After a week of waiting I finally revealed the contents in the cheesecloth, sliced it open, and had a piece. The colour, texture, and taste to me seems absolutely perfect. This is my second project out of Charcuterie, and so far I have been really impressed. The first time I made Peameal Bacon (which is the unsmoked version of Canadian Bacon, which dosent actually exist here in Canada.) Thanks alot Ruhlman! Cant wait to bring this into the restaurant and see how it holds up with the other cooks!!

  • Michael

    I have followed this a few times, but I just finished my first personal variation on your basic instructions: I added orange zest, sage, and quatre epices to the dry mix. and i have to say the final result is sensational! thank you so much for the inspiration!

  • NYCook

    Timely post as I just finished curing duck breast for the restaurant. Slightly diffrent process but same result, more delicious fatty goodness.

  • Lee

    I used the recipe in charcuterie (love the book by the way, great stuff)after eating this in a local restaurant. Just tried my own duck prosciutto, the texture is fantastic but it’s quite a bit too salty. It would probably be ok if eaten on some bread with olive oil which I’ll be doing as soon as I have some decent bread but is there anything I can do to reduce the saltiness? Does anyone know if this is likely to have been caused by not rinsing well enough before hanging or just the way it is?

  • Karen

    Great suggestions for cooking duck prosciutto. I’ll have to try that. I love that it will only have to hang for a week. I usually use Volpi’s diced prosciutto (volpini)http://www.volpifoods.com to enhance my dishes and give it that extra italian kick. I’ll have to get that Charcuterie book too.

  • Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener

    Michael, is there an optimum temperature range to hang the magret? I don’t suppose too hot is good…. or what was the temperature in your kitchen when you did this?

    It looks fabulous, and fabulously easy. Do you know if it was a mallard breast or a barbary?

  • Calvin C

    Love this website.

    We also have a method to make something resembling the dry cured duck breast mentioned here. Instead in China we dry cure duck leg quarters. You can purchase these pre-packaged preserved duck legs at almost all Chinese grocery stores.

    We don’t eat these legs raw though, instead we usually steam them in the rice cooker when we are cooking rice. The smell of the legs is exactly like proscuitto, and tastes very similar.

  • stephen

    Great site! I’ve been cooking for 15 years and am just now getting around to curing meat. I’m used to fast production,technique focused cuisine.. heaps of local crisp veggies, lean ala minute meats and seafood, good olive oil and citrus. tons of acid.
    Brine, spice and fat is good too. I like how you have the confit below with leaves and onions. Not lentils and aioli. good stuff.

  • CookingSchoolConfidential.com

    The color of that is beautiful, just beautiful. These days, we are doing nothing but chicken, chicken, and more chicken at school (I’m a culinary school student), but ducks will be coming soon.

    I can hardly wait.

    Cheers!

  • allen

    I live in the Northwest and would like to make a nice batch of the tasty looking prosciutto but can not find a place that sells duck. Where the heck do you buy it? I’m ready to head to a local pond and lure them in with some stale bread.

  • Josh Venne

    Hello Mr. Ruhlman,

    My name is Josh Venne and I am currently in Pardus’ Asias class at the CIA. I brought in some Duck Prosciutto that I made and we evaluated it together. It was my first time making it and I wasn’t sure of the results. Pardus and some other chefs said it was very good. I basically followed your recipe in Charcuterie. I added some spices and dusted it with brown sugar, chili pepper and black pepper. They were really large Magrets from Hudson Valley Foie Gras, so I cured them for about 48 hours. It hung for around 11 days and came out nice, especially after I sliced it down in the meat room.

    Just wanted to say thank you and chime in as Pardus advised me to. (When is he wrong?) By the way, I am really anxious to buy Ratios.

  • veron

    I wonder if that was what my grandma was doing during the days that are dry and cool…she would hang a couple of ducks under tall ceilings of our kitchen… I was a picky eater when I was young and I would refuse to even taste it…

  • luis

    I am troubled by some of this and then I am not. Having befriended some ducks at Lake Patricia and observed their behaviours….
    very very similar to puppies or dogs… It all seems to come down to some sort of social contract between the keepers and the animals.
    We will love you and raise you right and then we will eat you! This is the part I find troublesome… I could get home at the most ungodly hour of the night and out of the corner of my eye see the ducks sleeping with one eye open wagging their tails very happy to see me!
    There is a larger question here and is one I just don’t understand. Also I understand I am not supposed to… Son of a bitch!!!!!!!!!!

  • Russ H

    I have had this Several times now, at Lolita. When people ask me about Michael Symon’s restaurants, this is always the thing I come to…I always recommend the Cured Meats sampler.

    PS: When you tour for your new book, come to Detroit. It’s only a couple hours away…

  • ruhlman

    you won’t die of botulism if you cure a whole muscle, only danger is with sausages and that is controled with nitrite/nitrate.

    all duck breasts ok to use

    quarter cup of salt is plenty of salt for five pound belly. if you’re worried can dredge in salt or in the basic dry cure in the book.

    salinity in water in dry cure fridge is to prevent growth of mold on the water. wine frige should work but haven’t tried it.

  • Offalboy

    Oh Mr. Ruhlman! what a inspiration you are to us all, i really have to stoop drooling in your book and start doing some recepies, and i thought i would ask you a few things.

    1. In a previous post you tried curing in a small fridge but added salt water to it so it would ceep the moisture level up. Is the salinity of the water important, and if it is, what levels of salt did you use?

    2. would a wine fridge be better for home curing since it is built for higher temperatures.

    /offalboy

  • Doug (Pancetta Press)

    Great photos!

    I have 5 lbs of fresh pork belly I just purchased from a farm in CT. I’m planning on making bacon for the first time this weekend and looked up the recipe in Ruhlman’s book.

    The recipe says to only use 1/4 C of kosher salt. Granted, this is my first time, but this seems like an awfully small amount of salt for the size of the pork belly I have.

    Can someone please confirm that this isn’t a typo? I only ask because the farm makes their own bacon and the guy told me that he uses about half a box of kosher salt but only lets it cure for about 36 hours.

    Thanks!

  • Lars

    I’ve always wanted to drycure something, but I always hesitate because I’m afraid I will kill the whole family with botulism.

  • Louise

    I am intrigued by the duck prosciutto as my boyfriend does not eat pork and misses out on most charcuterie treats. I’d like to try rolling the raw breast in to a round with the fat on the outside, for presentation more than anything, but I worry that this would not leave enough of the flesh exposed and it might not dry out properly. I don’t want the meat to spoil in a case of style over substance!

  • JBL

    Getting my “curing chamber” (really an old fridge) this weekend; it’s the last piece of equipment I need to begin my charcuterie “lab” out of my garage! Thanks to you and your excellent book Mr. Ruhlman I shall venture into the wonderful world of preservation very soon. My first attempt was going to be peperone; but, after having read this post, I’m seriously considering the duck prosciutto!

  • pat

    Do you have to use Magret? I can buy duck from a local farmer but its peking.

  • Feisty Bourbon Girl

    My husband and I had this at a restaurant (Acacia, in Richmond, VA) several years ago. He STILL says it was the best thing he’s EVER eaten in his entire life. Once he sees this, we’ll be making it at home :)

  • ArC

    I should say, by the way, that I brought some of it into work today and the compliments I got were outstanding. “My new favourite food is duck prosciutto”, “this is almost erotic”… I followed the recipe from Charcuterie pretty much exactly, so the credit really goes to you guys (and the duck).

  • Greg Turner

    Suddenly my oatmeal seems drab and pale (even with dried cranberries in it). Awesome technique and wonderful photographs.

  • sp

    Michael, it looks pretty damn good to me!!! This is the recipe that got me started with home curing and drying meats, fish, making pickles etc., and I’ve been hooked ever since. I saw the recipe on Nick and Blake’s blog actually. After they bought Charcuterie, they did a whole bunch of your recipes and posted about their successes and failures. I bought the book twice, for myself and a friend. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • DJK

    Take off point: your duck packed in salt is vaguely reminiscent of the fish packed in salt that Bourdain ate tonight in the Sicily episode of his Travel Channel show…

    My reason for posting: the next time you two are pointing out one another’s shortcomings, perhaps it would be fair to mention that AB’s visits to Italy this week on the Travel Channel have been sponsored by the MF’ing Olive Garden. Did they think that a Pizza Hut Pasta sponsorship would have been taking it too far?

  • ruhlman

    responding quickly: scoring is unnecessary. i did it out of habit. i use a sharp slicing knife. and never throw out something because it smells a little off. if you’re concerned, just cook it. (of course if it’s clearly rotten then don’t even give it to the dog.)

  • Eduardo

    I really don’t think a mandoline will work, the blade wouldn’t slide it trhough the meat, as it should…

    I also have a copy of Charcuterie here in Brazil and love it!!! My first bacon batch will be done in a few more days and duck prosciutto is next on the list!

    Great recipe, great picutres… thank you Michael!

  • Drago

    Last time I made this it smelled a bit strong after the week’s time. Sort of like chicken that was on the way out, but not quite “bad”.

    Is that normal based on the curing/flavor-concentration process? I wasn’t sure, so I tossed it, but would love to try it again.

    Thanks!

  • Barry

    That is insanely beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like that.

    The pictures are mouth-wateringly good.

  • ArC

    dadekian, I had good results just slicing with a sharp chef’s knife. I dried the duck in the fridge, so it was cooler and thus maybe a little more firm than it would have been at room temp. Guide the knife with your other hand’s knuckles, slice in a movement that’s both horizontal and vertical, and I think you should be able to produce very thin slices. (You can practice your thin slicing technique on carrots or potatoes first.)

    … I wonder if I could have just sliced it on a mandoline.

  • Erin

    I have finally just bought a copy of Charcuterie, it is really wonderful. I already have duck hanging from my pot rack.

    God that looks amazing.

  • Matthew

    In the picture, the center looks a lot pinker than the edge of the meat. Isn’t that something to be worried about? How long can this prosciutto keep with/without refrigeration?

  • ArC

    Whats the benefit of scoring the duck breast?

    I made this for the first time recently – just unwrapped it on Sunday – and it was awesome. Thanks, Michael!

  • Nancy Heller

    Ours came out way too salty and tough – would a lack of skin make a difference in the process (the farmer who gave us the duck had to skin it because she couldn’t get the feathers off of it).

    We’ll try the pancetta method with it!

  • dadekian

    Any recommendations on how to really thinly slice at home short of getting a deli slicer? My mother bought a home version of a deli slicer a few years ago (Sunbeam maybe?). I tried it once and told her to throw it out.

  • MIchael

    I second the notion that this process is very simple, yet the result is so impressive. Plus you don’t have to wait too long till it’s done! I’ve done about 6 breasts on different ocassions following the procedure in “Charcuterie” The most difficult part is slicing it so thin with a kitchen knife at home.

  • Toke-Dawg

    How long does it need to be packed in salt? Is that cheesecloth that it’s wrapped in? This is one thing I’d love to try at home.

  • DC

    I recently polished off the last of my duck prosciutto (I cured it with the addition of red chili flakes). The last 1/8 of it I sliced thinly and sauteed with shredded cabbage, salt and pepper in duck fat. It was awesome.

    Your book rocks! I just made the corned beef for St Patty’s, and many said it was the best they’ve ever had. Thanks much.