When people challenge me to "make trafe safe," they usually mention ham. This breakthrough recipe began with that dare-and my realization that what makes ham taste like itself has less to do with the meat than its cure. My quest for kosher prosciutto-nothing less!-led me first to smoked turkey leg, which is hammy all right, but hardly like the Italian specialty. I went to work, and, happily, scored a triple bull's-eye by giving duck breast a really easy salt cure-just fifteen minutes of prep followed by a "set-it-and-forget-it" refrigerator stay. The resulting "prosciutto" is so much like the real thing, but with a special character all its own, you'll be amazed. I pair this with grilled figs, a traditional prosciutto accompaniment, but that's just the beginning. Try it draped over melon, wrapped around asparagus spears or, diced and sautéed, as a salad garnish.
- 4 ServingsServings
- 2 6- or 8-ounce packages of muscovy duck breast
- 4` cups kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup white wine vinegar
1. Over a burner flame, singe away any remaining pinfeathers from the breasts. Rinse the breasts and dry with paper towels.
2. On a dish just large enough to hold the breasts, make a 1-inch bed of the salt. Place the breasts on the salt and cover with another inch of salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.
3. In a small bowl, combine the coriander, fennel, and pepper. Holding the breasts over the sink, rinse with the vinegar (to remove the salt), and then under cold running water. Dry the breasts and rub all over with the spice mixture. Wrap the breasts, meat sides together, in cheesecloth and knot it at both ends. Using sturdy household tape (duct tape works well), attach one end of the cheesecloth to the top of the refrigerator interior, or hang the breasts from the inside of the refrigerator door, above and at the side of the top door shelf. Let the breasts cure until they feel firm but not dry, about 2 weeks. Start checking after a week. Thinner or smaller breasts will take less time.
4. Using an electric slicer or a sharp carving knife, slice the breasts paper thin or as thinly as possible. Serve.
To achieve paper-thin slices, I use an inexpensive electric slicer, a great kitchen investment.
The very ends of the cured breast over-dry. Save them to put in soup. If you can't find muscovy breasts, place the meat sides of the two regular breasts together.