Charcuterie dilema

Joined May 8, 2009
Well, I messed it all up again.

I was reading Ruhlman & Polcyn's book on the train ride home the other day (month) and I thought, "why not?".

Sounds pretty simple to make duck breast prosciutto.

I have a good relationship with our broadliner rep so, free duck breasts! :)

I buried the breasts in kosher salt for 24 hours.  The next step would be to rinse them, cover with cheesecloth, and air-dry for a week.

Typical me, I didn't have the foresight to acquire an appropriate area to air dry the breasts.

And then the heat of the summer finally came (we're having a late summer).

I scouted all over, but even the friend's garage was too hot to hang.  I wasn't thinking when I started.

So I was in a holding pattern for a week looking for a place to hang it all.  I had rinsed the breasts and wrapped tightly in plastic, wrapped again, and refrigerated in a plastic container with lid.  This sat for well over a week while I was looking at wine coolers on craigslist and generally forgetting about that project in the back of my fridge. 

Last Monday I took the breasts out of plastic, wrapped them in a little cheesecloth, and placed them on a wire rack inside my refrigerator.  I know this is the wrong way to do it, but I didn't know what else to do.  I wasn't going to commit to a wine cooler for that price at that time, so...

So, anyway, my question is:

Can I safely eat this duck?  The salting time was 24 hours.  Is that what makes it safe to eat?  I really don't want to ask the DoH.
Joined May 5, 2010
Hmmmmmmm. Left4bread, I make duck Prosciutto in my fridge.

My problem is getting the humidity right. 

After I rinse the breast I wrap them in cheesecloth and tie them tightly with string and hang them in the fridge for a week.

After that I remove them, untie, unwrap, them re-wrap and retie.

(as the duck breast drys it will shrink and the package has to be redone to secure the breast)

For me in my little neck of the woods refer it takes about 3 1/2 weeks to properly cure

The meat will become very tight and slightly hard. It will have a greyish/reddish color.

Try shaving off a tiny piece to taste. It will be salty but smooth and be of a rare consistency.

Try it again and let us know how it works out for you.
Joined May 8, 2009
This batch turned out okay, I guess. 

I was expecting to gag on duck fat, but it was actually quite nice and melted in my mouth.

It's a bit too dry to sit there and nom nom, so I froze most of it.

Will use in recipes like...  I dunno, soups?  Cassoulet?  Any recipe calling for pancetta or w/e.

Not going to try any of this again until I buy a wine cooler off craigslist.

Any tips on controlling the humidity in wine cooler refrigerators?

Post Script:  The reason for cheese-clothing and tying..., is it a "shape" issue? 

As in, "I want the final product to be a pressed rectangle or spheroid".  Or is it meant to keep flies and other pests off of the flesh?

Noob question, sorry.
Last edited:
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Left4 - I don't know for sure but would imagine the cheesecloth is important to let the moisture out, and also to make the shape you want, while keeping all the bugs off the meat.

Not a pro, but it would seem to make sense.  Glad it tasted well :)

As for your other questions - someone else may have an answer.
Joined May 5, 2010
"Not going to try any of this again until I buy a wine cooler off craigslist.  

Any tips on controlling the humidity in wine cooler refrigerators?"

Whats with the wine cooler?

You think that the big guys who make this stuff for a living have a special cooler?

They don't.

In fact, in Europe they hang this stuff outside for weeks at a time to cure.

Remember you salted it.

It is going to be preserved.

All you are doing is removing the moisture.

The fridge makes it take a little longer.

There is a patience thing going on here.

Don't try to quicken the process. 
Joined May 8, 2009
Well, yeah, sure, but they got caves and cellars. 

I've got a 75F studio apartment :p

And the refrigerator is okay, but it's got that fan in it that I feel may dry it out too quickly?

You seem to feel differently...

I just think it would be cool to have a little wine cooler that sits in the 60's /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

I'm probably being too paranoid and anal about it; typical me.

Thanks for the insight and Chefross.

And thanks for the reply, DC.  I like your new(?) avatar.
Joined Feb 26, 2007
Was thinking if you look up a pretty old thread here about aging meat in your fridge that may be of hep with this, re storage in the fridge and aeration of the product.  As others have said, a cool room is preferable but if you don't have it, then the fridge is the next choice.  I think the thread described placing the meat on a plastic rack ( or a piece of plastic with holes poked into it) over a solid rack and loosely covering the product - I may be wrong, am pretty sure it ran along those lines.

Left4 - I couldn't get my old fat avatar back after the upgrade to the site, so that's the new one /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

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