Cook the Book: Duck Ham

Cook the Book: Duck Ham

[Photograph: Oof Verschuren]

This week we've been looking at DIY projects from Yvette van Boven's Home Made. She's proven to be fearless in the kitchen, taking on everything from cheesemaking to preserving, infusing, and all sorts of other projects that are sure to expand your culinary horizons. For our last recipe of the week, I decided to tackle one that is firmly out of most home cook's comfort zones: curing meat.

Van Boven's take on Duck Ham is a quick salt cure, an almost effortless process that required barely any effort at all, especially when considering just how impressive homemade duck ham sounds. It's basically a matter of procuring a nicely fatty duck breast, scoring the layer of fat, sprinkling it it orange zest, and submerging the duck in a mountain of kosher salt.

Of course, there are the necessary precautions that must be noted here—be sure to cover your salt covered duck very well and make sure your storage area is immaculately clean as well as nice and chilly to ward off any unwelcome mold or bacteria. After that it's just a matter of waiting around for a few days for the salt to do its curing magic.

I let my duck ham sit for four days, assuming that this was one of those cases where a another day or two certainly wouldn't hurt. When it came time to pull my duck ham out of its salt cave I was thrilled to see that it was a deep, dark burgundy color much like other duck prosciuttos that I've enjoyed in the past. The flavor was fantastically ducky with little burst of orange where the zest permeated the fat. Totally impressive and wonderfully tasty, this the kind of recipe that deserves a pat on the back when executed correctly.

  • Yield:8 to 10 as a snack
  • Active time: 15 minutes
  • Total time:2 days

Ingredients

  • 1 duck breast
  • Several cups of kosher salt
  • Zest of two oranges

Directions

  1. 1.

    Score the fat layer of the duck breast crosswise. Fill a tray halfway with salt. Sprinkle the grated orange rind on the duck breast. Place the duck breast in the tray with the salt and top with more salt until fully covered.

  2. 2.

    Cover the tray completely and place a heavy object on it. Store in a cool place for at least two days.

  3. 3.

    When the duck ham is ready rinse the meat thoroughly, pat dry, and cut into very thin slices using a sharp knife.