Monday, January 31, 2011
Charcutepalooza: Duck Prosciutto
I promise, I have had a lot going on besides Charcutepalooza. But dangit, Charcutepalooza is the fun one of all my current projects! And finally today we got to enjoy its benefits.
The duck prosciutto was ready last week, but we were busy and only had time to try a little nibble. Our duck breasts had quite a bit of fat on them, which wasn't so good to eat straight, but I learned I could trim it off and use it to give an amazing richness to a pot of beans. Beyond that, we wrapped up the duck prosciutto and stashed it in the freezer for a better day.
Today was that day, and I decided that if you can't have a fancy appetizer for breakfast sometimes, then you aren't really living. I've always seen pork prosciutto served in thin slices wrapped around chunks of melon... and I got to thinking that the sweeter acidity of a mango would go nicely with our juniper-cured duck prosciutto.
The great thing about having frozen the prosciutto: It was easier to slice it very thin. And by the time I had the mango peeled and cubed, those thin slivers of duck had thawed out. So I just wrapped them up and plonked them on a pretty dish, and we nibbled our mango-prosciutto bites with our fingers over the newspaper. I had coffee because I'm a junkie, but Keith had his with peppermint tea, and in retrospect I bet that was really lovely with the fruit and duck.
So that's project one of Charcutepalooza, and I still have plenty of home-cured duck prosciutto in the freezer. (I'm thinking I need to chunk some of it up in the spring and make a pasta dish with duck prosciutto and the first little green peas from my garden.) Next up is homemade bacon, and I was out pricing pork belly for that today.
It's funny how cooking expands your horizons. Five years ago, I was in Hollywood experimenting with new produce from the Sunday farmers' market at Sunset and Vine. Three years ago, I was new in Portland and beginning to try my Grandmother's old freezing rituals and planning my garden. Two years ago, my dabbling interest in canning took off into an ever-growing epic that now consumes my summers and allows me to go Christmas shopping in my own pantry. One year ago, I started making cheese. And now that I've nailed down the science and craft of freezing and canning, my preservation inclinations are coming to include charcuterie. Not bad for a former-vegetarian urbanite.
And I find the more I learn, the less I know, and I like it that way. This way I always get to keep on learning! Now, on to that pork belly...