Charcutepalooza: Duck Prosciutto

unwrapped

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.

glazed

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).

No-sweat Cooking, Day 13

Prosciutto-Radish Sandwiches

31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!

I’ve been a fan of the combo of radishes, butter, and salt since I first tried them together at at NYC’s Prune forever ago, so this sandwich seemed like a sure thing. The sandwich is also just about the easiest thing in the world to put together, so it seemed to be a good way to get back on the No-sweat Cooking wagon after losing a weekend to illness (mine and our Kali girl’s) and a few pressing projects.

prosciutto, butter, radishes

As with any dish that contains so few ingredients, quality is super important. I started with a great fresh baguette from Seven Stars Bakery, sweet and porky La Quercia Prosciutto Americano from Farmstead, farm fresh radishes, softened Kate’s butter and good coarse sea salt. The peppery snap of the radishes was really nice against the silky prosciutto – as Mike said, “this one’s a keeper,” and I expect we’ll be enjoying these Prosciutto-Radish Sandwiches often.

Get the recipe: Prosciutto-Radish Sandwiches

Not what I had planned

Dinner:  January 27, 2008

Somebody might have spaced on taking out the halibut to thaw for Sunday dinner. And somebody might have tried to waterbath it, but it was still hard as a rock as the dinner hour approached. So somebody had to come up with a Plan B, and somebody thanked her lucky stars yet again for pasta, that wonderful versatile food – a quick Alfredo sauce, a little Prosciutto, a little fresh basil and a salad on the side, and voila. This was not what I had planned, but it was not a bad alternative at all.

Braisin’

Dinner:  January 16, 2008

After a couple of late nights at the office which screwed up my meal plan for the week, I was back in the kitchen last night and ready to get back on track. It’s braising season, and while we often turn to that method of cooking for meats and hearty winter greens, I’ve wanted to experiment with other vegetables.

Mike had great success with the braised duck and carrots dish he made over the weekend, and as it happened that dish played a part in our meal last night, specifically, I repurposed some of the braising liquid which we had saved from that dish, added a bit of white wine and grainy mustard, and used it to cook my leeks.

I browned them in a little butter first, then placed them into a baking dish, nestled in a few sprigs of thyme and poured over just enough liquid to come up to the top of the leeks. I placed the baking dish into the oven at 325 degrees until they were very tender and the liquid was slightly reduced, about half an hour or so.

While the leeks were braising, I also crisped up six slices of Prosciutto San Daniele on a Silpat-lined baking sheet for about 20 minutes, turning them once halfway through cooking. To plate, I placed two slices of the Prosciutto down on each plate, topped them with half of the leeks and a little of the reduced braising liquid, and topped each stack with a poached egg and plenty of freshly ground black pepper, finishing with a sprinkling of crumbled Prosciutto.

As experiments go, this was a big success – the leeks were sweet and meltingly tender, the crisp Prosciutto lent a nice textural contrast and welcome saltiness, and the yolk of the egg created a rich and silky dressing that brought it all together beautifully. Mike’s only complaint was that he would have liked more leeks, and I agree. I’m definitely going to make this again, and I’m looking forward to trying it with fennel, endive, and other vegetables.