Charcutepalooza: Duck Prosciutto


Mike and I have had a copy of Charcuterie in our collection of food and cookery books for almost as long as we’ve been together. This sort of “project cooking” hasn’t traditionally been my thing (although I did make our first batch of house-cured salmon from the book before someone decided to take over), but Mike loves it, and has taken on many curing projects over the years, among them making bacon and a steady supply of duck confit.

making meat, day 6

Of course, the last several months have found us taking on all sorts of cooking projects together that I never imagined we would: we got bit hard by the canning bug, and we’re even beginning to experiment with lactofermentation, making saurkraut and soon, I hope, kimchi at home. So when our friends Cathy and Kim launched what would turn into this incredible sensation, this celebration of cured meats called Charcutepalooza, we were immediately on board.

duck prosciutto

Mike did the bulk of the heavy lifting for this first challenge, and can I just say wow, his breasts are not only gorgeous, but they are delicious (fnar, fnar). As for me, aside from tying the buggers up in their cheesecloth to hang at the beginning of the challenge, I’ve had little to do with those duck breasts but to slice, eat, and enjoy. Oh, and to come up with some fun ways to use this lovely prosciutto.

duck prosciutto with shaved fennel and radish salad

I typically think simple preparations are best when you want to highlight something made with so much care, so for our first dish, I took inspiration from the shaved fennel salad I like to serve with bresaola. I shaved fennel bulb very thin using a mandolin, and shaved thin slices of radish as well, then combined the two and tossed them with a zippy Meyer lemon vinaigrette – just fresh Meyer lemon juice, our best olive oil, sea salt, and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper. I mounded it in the middle of a plate and placed thin slices of the prosciutto around the edges. We ate with our fingers, wrapping bites of the crisp salad up with the prosciutto slices, a delicious combination.

duck prosciutto

For several days thereafter, the prosciutto sat (mostly) untouched, as we were “on a cleanse”, but this morning I awoke with an idea I couldn’t get out of my head: Duck. Duck. Goose.

foie gras

We had a nub of foie gras in the freezer, left over from our Christmas Day wellingtons. We had the duck prosciutto, of course. And though we typically have Mike’s own duck confit in the fridge, we were fresh out, so we picked up a leg at Persimmon Provisions and when we got home from our food and drink-procuring rounds, I got to work.

balls, formed

I pulled the confit meat from the bone, mincing it fine, then added shallot, fresh savory, a beaten egg and a small amount of dry breadcrumbs to the mix. I formed the mixture into cocktail-sized meatballs, each one stuffed with a nugget of foie. I melted duck fat in our iron skillet, gently browning the meatballs on all sides, then drained them on paper towels while I prepared a glaze – fig jam and white balsamic, mustard seeds and fresh ground pepper, sticky, tangy and fruity but not too sweet.


The meatballs went in until they were nicely coated, then I removed them and wrapped each one in a sheet of the duck prosciutto, threading a toothpick through to secure them. After a minute or three under the broiler they were ready to eat, the foie having melted into the rich ducky meatballs, the prosciutto having been rendered crisp and brown at the edges.

Duck Duck Goose

Little bites of heaven (now with recipe!).

The Charcutepalooza February Challenge is up, and I’ve got a five pound slab of Pat’s Pastured pork belly in the fridge. I’m taking the lead on this one, and I couldn’t be more excited (but we just might have a little something extra up our sleeves – stay tuned).

Worth the Wait

short rib chili

We love a good pot of chili, and our kitchen has turned out dozens of variations over the years. Mike is partial to a meaty, Alton Brown-style version, while I tend to favor a chili with lots of beans and sometimes no meat at all. With the weather turning colder I decided to make chili my next project, and set out on Sunday to come up with a version that would satisfy both of us.

fully loaded

For the meat, I used Aquidneck Farm beef short ribs, boned out, trimmed, and cut into chunks. I made a puree of chiles and spices, added fire-roasted tomatoes and some rich dark beer, and let everything cook low and slow for the better part of the day. I added some crushed tortilla chips for texture and a hint of toasty corn flavor, and a hit of fresh lime juice at the end for brightness and balance. And after my pot of chili had cooked for the better part of the day, I cooled it down and let it sit overnight. We ate it on Monday with a bevy of garnishes, and I have to tell you, it was so worth the wait. You can get my recipe at food52.

In the ‘zone

As you know, Mike and I do love our pizza, and he makes it at home often. He’s been working on refining the dough recipe for his pizza stone version, weighing the finished dough and pinching off 7 to 8 ounces of it so the crust fits our peel better, and that has left us with a freezer full of little dough balls. Since opening the freezer door has become a bit of a hazard lately, what with the frozen dough and other items crammed inside often shifting and plummeting south toward unsuspecting toes, I decided to take action: I’d thaw some of those balls of dough and turn them into calzones.

I took two nice bunches of farmers’ market greens (one kale and one mustard, but any type of greens would probably work well here), stemmed and chopped them, and cooked them down with a good amount of olive oil and smashed garlic. When they were nicely wilted down but still bright green, I removed them from the heat and let them cool. I tipped a container of Narragansett Creamery ricotta into a big bowl, then added some salt, freshly ground pepper, an egg yolk, and a bit of grated parm, then mixed it all to combine. When my greens were cool enough to handle, I ran my knife through them again to chop them really fine, then squeezed out the excess liquid and added them to the cheese mix, stirring until the greens were evenly distributed.

Dinner: October 4, 2010

I made a bit of a mess with the dough at first – it was a little wet and kept sticking to my parchment, so I had to incorporate a bit more flour into it (getting it all over the counter, the floor, and myself in the process), but I finally got a couple of rounds I could work with. I mounded a big scoop of the filling on half of each round, folded them over, crimped the edges, brushed them with a bit of beaten egg white, cut a few slashes in the tops to help them vent steam, then I placed them on the pizza stone in a preheated 450 degree oven for about half an hour.

a peek inside

I served them up with a rich, winey tomato sauce (which also ended up all over me as I cooked it – not my finest hour in the kitchen that night), and some lightly dressed Arcadian Fields Teenage Lettuce Mix. My calzones are a work in progress, but I think we got off to a great start.

So long, September

Dinner: September 29, 2010

I’m incredibly grateful to put September behind us and move forward. Dietschtoberfest is nearly upon us after all – time to plan for happier days.


By the way, it’s National Pizza Month, too, and Mike is embarking on another round of tweaking recipes in the quest for his perfect pie. This one was pretty fabulous. Stay tuned for more.

Happy weekend, and I hope it’s full of delicious things.

Dinner and a Movie

So after our big day yesterday (which you can now get a sneak peek at on, I was eager to tuck into one of my husband‘s homemade pizzas for dinner. After our meat-heavy weekend, we elected to go for a vegetarian pie topped with a few fresh, seasonal goodies.

Mike dressed his standard crust with a layer of Amanda Hesser’s deliciously jammy roasted cherry tomatoes (from this food52 recipe), a blend of cheeses (including our favorite fresh mozz from Narragansett Creamery), and thin mandolined slices of zucchini.

Dinner: September 7, 2010

I gave the pizza a shower of freshly grated Pecorino Romano when it came out of the oven, along with a sprinkle of fresh marjoram leaves and a drizzle of Sicilian olive oil. The roasted tomatoes made for a delicious “sauce”, melting down even further into little orbs bursting with concentrated tomato flavor, and we loved how the paper-thin zucchini crisped and melded into the cheese.

The marjoram, too, was a welcome change from basil, with a deeper, earthier flavor to complement the more concentrated flavor of the roasted tomato “sauce”, a gentle reminder a that cooler weather and heartier fare are not too far away.