Duck Ham: A Super Easy Curing Project:

I have a new curing project for you, and I’m excited because it’s so easy!  Duck Ham. There’s no heat involved in this one, just an overnight cure and then air-drying– and this duck ham only takes a week from start to finish!  So if you would like to try making your own cured meats at home but are feeling a little intimidated, this is a great one for you to get started with.  This is another project that I am sharing from one of my favorite books, Food DIY.  According to Tim Hayward, this is a prosciutto- style cure, and these smaller pieces of duck (you can also use rabbit) yield safe and beautiful results.  Let’s  get started!Duck Ham Super Easy Meat Curing Project

Making Duck Ham

What You’ll Need

IMG_0992

  • 2 tsp (10g) fresh or dried thyme, rosemary or juniper (I used thyme)
  • 1 tsp (5g) freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup (200g) coarse sea salt
  • 1 duck breast
  • butcher’s string
  • cheesecloth or muslin cloth
  • recommended: a kitchen scale, like this one

What to Do

1.  Mix the salt and the herbs together to form the curing mixture.

2. Coat the duck breast with the curing mixture, add the rest to a ziplock freezer bag or a class container, and put the duck breast in.  If you’re using a bag, then press out all the air when sealing.  Let sit for 24 hours. [Note: next time I do it, I will remove the skin with a sharp knife first, leaving as much of the layer of fat beneath intact. This is what I recommend you do, too.]

Duck Ham 6
3. Wash the cure mixture off of the duck breast, pat it dry with a clean kitchen towel, and grind some fresh black pepper onto it, pressing it in a little.  You will notice that the little slab of meat is now much more dense and kind of stiff– this is from the dehydration caused by the curing salts drawing out the moisture from the duck breast.

IMG_10614. Wrap it up in muslin, and tie with butcher’s string.  The instructions in Food DIY said to “tie it tightly in several places,” but I really didn’t see the point in that, figuring it would dry out better as it was, plus it’s already very, very flat.

5. Hang in a cool airy place for a week.  I used my conservatory, which stays pretty cold at this time of year.  The instructions I was using didn’t say a whole lot about optimal temperatures, but I know that if you want to be very careful, you can hang it in your fridge, where the temperatures do not rise above 40F or 4C.  Air circulation is important. In most other air-dried curing projects, it’s recommended that you weigh the meat when you take it out of the curing mixture, and then weigh it every few days as you let it hang, and eat it when it has achieved a 30% weight loss.  This recipe doesn’t ask you to do any of that, and I gave it an extra day and a half, just to be sure.  I’d like to note that there was no mold or bloom growing on the duck ham at all, and it always had a pleasant, hammy scent through the week.

IMG_11576. Slice thinly and serve.  It tastes great– clean but nice and duck-y.  And the color is really lovely, too. If I do anything different next time, it will be to add more thyme, as the flavor didn’t come out quite a strongly as I would have liked. I think I’ll experiment next time with adding some sugar to the cure, too. It’s salty, so do slice it very thinly.

IMG_1187This project of making duck ham was my first time curing a meat without smoking it, and it was so easy!  I highly recommend it, if you are wanting to do a small curing project that won’t take much time or meat.

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21 Responses to Duck Ham: A Super Easy Curing Project:

  1. NinnyNoodleNoo January 15, 2014 at 8:24 pm #

    Wonderful! I must try this! I had this, or something very much like it, years ago in a fascinating little restaurant (basically someone’s house) in the Dordogne years ago, it was delicious. This was also the evening I got to try adder’s venom in alcohol (there was a dead snake in the bottle). Don’t think you’d get away with that sort of thing in England ;)

    • ariana January 16, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      Well, that sounds like a pretty memorable dinner! Awesome. I do hope you’ll try it– it’s so easy, and very good.

  2. Laurel January 16, 2014 at 2:52 pm #

    Do you eat it raw then, or cook it like bacon?

    • ariana January 16, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

      Yes Laurel, it’s eaten raw just like prosciutto, jamón serrano, etc.

  3. Rois January 17, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

    Oh my yum! Sending this to my husband with the hopes he will try this out.

    • ariana January 18, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

      Keeping my fingers crossed for you! ;)

  4. kevin January 18, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    sounds awesome… does it just sit out on the counter for the initial 24 hours ?
    and how long do you reckon it will last in the fridge after curing ?
    cheers !!!

    • ariana January 18, 2014 at 5:52 pm #

      Hi Kevin, it goes in the fridge while it’s curing for the 24 hours. And I have read that it can be stored for months in the fridge (although it will continue to dry out.)

      • kevin January 18, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

        dynomite !
        thanx !!!

  5. Cris January 19, 2014 at 2:02 am #

    I am SUPER excited to try this out! Thanks for the great idea!

  6. Emily Swezey January 20, 2014 at 5:54 am #

    How exciting! I want to try this with rabbit now and of course the duck sounds delicious too :)

  7. Eileen @ Phoenix Helix January 23, 2014 at 12:37 am #

    This recipe looks delicious AND it fits the paleo autoimmune protocol (a rare thing). So, thank you! I recently started a weekly Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtable through my blog, and I would love it if you linked up this recipe. I’m trying to expand resources for the AIP community. Here’s the link: http://www.phoenixhelix.com/2014/01/22/paleo-aip-recipe-roundtable-11/

  8. Crystal S March 24, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    Oh my gosh this is awesome! I never even considered curing duck breasts. I can’t wait to try this, thanks!

  9. Jacqueline @ Deeprootsathome.com March 26, 2014 at 4:53 am #

    I have been very interested in doing this for years! I am excited to find you! Are there any other meats that I could use for this process? We have our own grass fed beef. What cut would you recommend, if so? What about a turkey breast? Thank you!

  10. dante October 29, 2014 at 1:32 am #

    Very cool.

  11. Reg Klubeck November 16, 2014 at 11:28 pm #

    Just so you know, this is NOT a duck ham!

    http://ducksonly.com/images/FarmPig16_941_200.jpg

    • Tina November 28, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

      ???

  12. Yvonne November 17, 2014 at 1:19 am #

    Thinking of trying this with a wild turkey breast. I’ve corned venison to where it tasted like corned beef with great success.

  13. Tina November 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    Used a (Canada) goose breast I had in the freezer, skinless, no fat. It was delicious…a surprise star on the appetizer table amongst my foodie friends and family, where it was dubbed prosciutto. The goose breast was the perfect size. I think wild duck breasts might be too small, I.e., too salty after the cure.

    • ariana December 8, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

      This did come out really salty, so I think goose breast is a great idea. So glad everyone loved yours– thanks for reporting back!

  14. firstfallen December 17, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    This is exactly like biltong (usually beef, but all sorts of game are used too, and ostrich).

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