Cured Duck Breast - Pancetta style. Never going back to flat.

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LoydB

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May 31, 2022
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So cured duck breast (duck breast 'prosciutto') is one of the most recommended starter projects for people getting into charcuterie. I started with it, but was never really thrilled. It dried out really fast, and didn't develop a ton of flavor IMO. I set out to re-engineer how I cured them to get a long, slow dry. It was totally worth the effort, this is the best cured duck I've ever tasted. Instead of a cure measured in weeks, it turned into months. The flavor development is out of this world.

Here's the money shot:
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First - use an EQ cure. I know a lot of people salt box them, but that way leads to disaster IMO.

Recipe
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The curing phase is pretty normal. Toast & grind spices, rub, seal and flip/overhaul every few days.

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Here's where we start deviating from the norm. Rather than hang it flat, I rolled it like you would a belly for pancetta, trussed the hell out of it, and then vacuum sealed it for a couple of days to get it to hold the shape. Not the best pic here but you get the idea.

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After a couple of days, I removed the string and wrapped the whole thing in a collagen sheet, then into some netting and hung it up to dry.

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Three and a half months later, it had lost 36% of the weight.

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Removed the collagen, and sliced. It is amazing, and I'm getting ready to start a couple more, because this one got devoured immediately.
 

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Man that looks good!!! Nice write up also.

Point for sure
Chris
 
Looks great. Is the collagen sheet what you use instead of Umai bags? Is it hung in the frig or do you have a special chamber?
 
Man that looks good!!! Nice write up also.
Thanks!

Looks great. Is the collagen sheet what you use instead of Umai bags? Is it hung in the frig or do you have a special chamber?

I've never used an Umai bag - I use mostly collagen cases for cured meats (either tubed or just sheets wrapped around it), and use hog casings for fresh sausage, so I'm not sure what the difference is.

This is the chamber, it is kept between 55-57 degrees F, and 75-80% RH. The duck breast is hanging front right, this was the day I took it down I think.

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I just put two more of these into the cave. See you in three months.
 
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I just put two more of these into the cave. See you in three months.
Question.. or two; what kind of duck breast are you using? I've been looking around locally and all I can find are these tiny 4-5 oz Maple Farms breasts. I'm looking around online and see a few options. That, and do my eyes deceive me or did you wash off the spices after the vacuum sealed curing?
 
I got the latest two at Whole Foods. Via mail you can do Dartangnon. And yes, I washed off the spices. The flavor has penetrated by the end of the cure.
 
I got the latest two at Whole Foods. Via mail you can do Dartangnon. And yes, I washed off the spices. The flavor has penetrated by the end of the cure.
Thank you. Whole Foods is a long drive for me, but I found that the local Wegman's has the Dartagnan Moulard Magret duck breasts. Kinda pricey for a beginners project but what the hey.
 
Some pics from the most recent two. After I sealed the breasts in the cure, I put them in the fridge between a couple of cutting boards with a 10# weight on top to flatten them out for easier rolling.

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So... please educate me on this. I put a breast in the cure, then tied and vacuum sealed to follow your process, but I'm very new to this and have a question regarding the collagen sheet. When I did my two pork tenderloins, I made sure the sheets made contact with 100% of the meat before netting, but with the breast rolled up there are spots on the ends that aren't going to make contact with the sheet. Is this essential, or will it be ok if there is a gap between the sheeting and the meat on each end?
 
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mr_whipple mr_whipple I wrap the sheet around it, then twist the hell out of one end and tie it off. Once that one is tied, squeeze the sheet down as far as it will go (pushing the bottom against where you just tied it off), twist like hell, and tie off the top. Basically just like I'd stuff a casing for sausage. You may end up tossing the first slide from the end. Here's a before shot, and what it looks like when finished prior to removing the collagen sheet around it.
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Where the sheet does not make contact with the surface of the meat, you can expect mold growth on the surface because the humidity will stay very high in that area. This is what fueled the "AH!" moment with the creation of my culatello blankets using old salami casing....

Loyd ha you covered. Tight Binding will help as well.
 
Got it done with little trouble. I over did the "twist like hell" and had a small blow out on the collagen sheet, so I did it over and the second time around it came out quite well. I'll post some pics in a bit, or maybe not.. it looks quite similar to those above except I have white netting. I will say this, that thing smelled really really good when I pulled it out of that vacuum seal bag. Thanks again for the tips.
 
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