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My duck post (Final): duck prosciutto, duck confit, and seared duck breast with cherry port wine sau

Discussion in 'Nose to Tail' started by snorkelinggirl, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    About 14 months ago, in a moment of hubris and stupidity, I purchased 2 butchered ducks from a local farmer.

    Those ducks have sat in my freezer since then. They terrified me. I could hear them laughing at me, quacking sinisterly, every time I opened up my freezer. They even got other cuts of meat to laugh at me: the full packer brisket, the bag of 5 pig tongues that I got for a steal, and the sack of 30 chicken feet. It is pretty sad when even your freezer contents disrespect you. I thought about giving the frozen ducks to my neighbor, who is a hunter and afraid of nothing. But that would have been too humiliating.

    I eventually took my revenge on the packer, the chicken feet, and even the pig tongues. But the ducks continued their reign of terror in the freezer. Until now.

    So, my post: 2 ducks, 2 days, too intense! Buckle your seatbelts, kids!

    Here's the plan:

    Day 1 -
    break down ducks
    make stock with carcasses
    render fat
    start curing 2 breasts for prosciutto
    dry brine the legs and thighs to confit on Day 2

    Day 2 -
    confit legs and thighs in the rendered fat
    make 2 seared breasts in cherry port sauce for dinner

    The bulk of the work will be done over this weekend. On Monday I'll need to hang the prosciutto to air dry. The confit is best if it ages in the refrigerator for a bit, so sometime in the next few weeks I'll use the duck confit and the stock to make duck confit risotto and duck & pumpkin ravioli. I'll update this post over the next few weeks as I go along.

    Day 1

    Getting ready to break down the ducks.

    Here are the parts I wanted: 4 breasts with skin left on, 4 leg/thigh parts with skin left on, and the tenderloins which I stripped off the breasts.

    Duck carcasses for stock, mostly trimmed of fat and skin.

    I covered the carcasses with water, brought it to a boil, skimmed off the scum, then lowered the heat. Added peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves, an onion, a couple of carrots, and a couple of stalks of celery. Simmered 6 hours. Poured the stock through a sieve. Here is the stock ready to be used or thrown in the freezer.

    Here is the fat and skin ready to render down in an ovenproof casserole dish.

    I put it in the oven uncovered at 300 deg F with a small amount of water. As the fat rendered off and the water evaporated, I gradually lowered the heat down to 250 deg F. After 3 hours, the cracklings were golden brown, so I removed it from the oven.

    Scooped the cracklings out onto a paper towel-lined plate, and seasoned with salt. Snacks!

    Filtered the rendered fat through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.

    And let it cool. Will reserve this fat for confitting the legs and thighs.

    Here is the cure mixture for the duck breasts. I got this duck prosciutto recipe from "Sportsman's Notebook", which my fearless hunter neighbor gave me a year ago. After I finish making this recipe, I will no longer have to cross the street and avoid eye contact when I see him coming. I look forward to that.

    Per this recipe, for each skin-on duck breast use 1/4 cup brown sugar, 3/4 cup kosher salt, 6 crushed juniper berries, 1 Tbsp ground white pepper, and 1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional). You basically follow the salt box method of curing.

    The cure mixture.

    Put half the salt mix on a large piece of saran wrap.

    Lay the breast on top of the salt mix.

    Cover with the remaining mix, then wrap the saran wrap around the breast tightly.

    Refrigerate for two days, flipping occasionally.

    Here are the leg and thigh pieces, with the legs frenched. They are "dry brined" with some aromatics a day before confitting to enhance the flavor. I used a recipe by Emeril Lagasse for the duck confit. Lay the 4 leg/thigh pieces with the skin down. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp ground pepper and 1 Tbsp kosher salt.

    Place 2 bay leaves, some crushed garlic, and some thyme sprigs over 2 of the pieces.

    Then sandwich meat side to meat side with the other 2 pieces. Sprinkle with another 1/8 tsp of kosher salt. Place in the refrigerator overnight.

    Dinner tonight used up the tenderloins. I sauteed shredded brussel sprouts in duck fat with a little duck stock. Added some duck cracklings for good ducky measure. Quickly seared the tenderloins. Served with some baked yam that I browned in the duck fat.

    That is it for Duck Post Day 1. Tomorrow I'll be confitting the legs and thighs, and will sear the 2 remaining duck breasts and serve with a cherry sauce for dinner.

    Thank you for reading, and hope you can stick it out with me over the next few weeks as I add to this post!

    disco and shyzabrau like this.
  2. dcarch

    dcarch Smoking Fanatic

    Great post!

    Sounds like you have the ducks in a row.

    Look forward to more.

  3. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Har!  [​IMG]

    Thanks for checking out my post, d!

    Hope you have a great night,

  4. bdskelly

    bdskelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    One word… Gumbo.   

    Nuff said

  5. moikel

    moikel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Wow you really channelled your inner French person! What a production.Big ducks too.
    I always thought duck stock made the best risotto.
    Duck fat now back in fashion ,never went out at my house.
    Ducks getting a big boost here thanks to a new wave of up market Chinese restaurants competing for the status of best Peking Duck.
    Good luck ,that prosciutto looks really special.
  6. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Lookin good Clarissa!'

    Question have you ever tried roasting your carcasses before making stock? Since the bones would be more porous I wonder if it would enhance the broth? 
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  7. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Brian,

    When I saw your comment I searched the internet and turned up some delicious sounding recipes for duck and andouille sausage gumbo. This will definitely go on my "to do" list. Thanks for the suggestion!


    Hi Mick,

    Thanks very much! I'm pretty excited about the prosciutto. I made duck prosciutto once before just using the straight salt box method, and it was delicious. I hope this will be better. In any event, the idea of winter greens sauteed in duck fat with a poached egg and duck prosciutto has got both my husband and I looking forward to it. Have a great day!


    Hi Foam,

    Thank you! I've always roasted beef bones before making beef stock, but I didn't think about doing it for the duck carcasses. I'm sure you are right, and it would enhance the flavor and yield a darker more intense stock. Too late on this go around, unfortunately, but I'll try that next time. Have a great day!

    Last edited: Nov 17, 2013
  8. bdskelly

    bdskelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Foamheart will tell you that using duck fat will make an incredible roux.  I have not been fortunate enough to give it a try.  So...You might consider reserving some of your fat for a Gumbo project. 
  9. Clarissa

    That is some good looking duck[​IMG][​IMG]. You will now be able to smile when you walk past the ducks in the store. I see a lot more of them in your freezer in the future, Keep the pics coming.[​IMG]

    Happy smoken.

  10. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hi Brian,

    Thanks again for the suggestions!! The great thing about the confit method is that it is a low temp cooking process. So the duck fat can be strained and reused again and again, getting more flavorful in the process. I'll definitely hang on to some of it to use for making gumbo.

    Oh, BTW, I was on a cooking forum thread about duck fat earlier today. I happened to see a post from someone who lives in Dallas. She said that Central Market in Dallas is a good place to buy duck fat. The thread was 2 years old, but if Central Market is in your area, maybe you could still find duck fat there for the next time you whip up gumbo.

    Have a great day!
  11. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey David,

    Thanks so much for the compliments and checking out my post! Funny you should mention it, but I was already thinking today about buying a couple of more ducks to try out Brian's duck gumbo suggestion and such. :biggrin:

    Have a great day!
  12. disco

    disco Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I find myself kneeling in front of my computer. Duck stock, duck pastrami, duck confit...

    Songs will be sung and odes will be written! 

    This is a great project.

  13. foamheart

    foamheart Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I bet she channeled Julia Child while cooking all this...... When reading Clarissa's comments I can hear Julia's voice!

    Clarissa's French provincial is showing. AND it is quite impressive.
  14. disco

    disco Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sorry, I don't ever remember Julia doing a full breakdown of a duck like this. Julia would be taking notes from Clarissa's post.

  15. Clarissa, this is INCREDIBLE!!!!!!!!

    I'm not only amazed and impressed by your doings, but by your freezer's grand contents as well!

    How very fantastic! This was just terrific to see!

    Cheers and happy Sunday! - Leah
  16. shtrdave

    shtrdave Smoking Fanatic

    The duck looks great, I have only made them on a rotisserie, a couple of scores of the skin and they have come out great, but you have went far beyond and looks like there will be nothing gone to waste.
  17. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You guys are awesome! Thank you so much for the compliments.

    But I'm afraid the only way I channel Julia is by drinking wine while cooking. :biggrin:
  18. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Thank you so much for the compliments and checking out my post, Leah! Your upbeat comments always put a smile on my face!

    Thanks and have a great night!

    Hi Dave,

    I think rotisserie is probably the best way to go to get that gorgeous crisp skin and moist interior. I don't think you are missing out on anything! You should definitely do a post on your duck method, I'd love to see it!

    Thanks so much for the compliments, and have a great night!
  19. bdskelly

    bdskelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Does this mean that we ALL channel Julia ?
  20. snorkelinggirl

    snorkelinggirl Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    And I'm certain she would approve!