We are participating in Charcutepalooza. The Year of Meat. I wasn’t going to, despite it sound like a lot of fun, because we are barely hanging on with the tasks of daily farming with me still recovering from my back injuries from the day before Christmas. (I really don’t recommend catching a tree with your back, just for the record.) But then I remembered that I have a lamb’s belly in my freezer and they are doing bellies in February and we raise all these critters so we might as well learn how to preserve the meat ourselves, right? So no promises to participate every month, but here we are.
January is devoted to duck prosciutto. Yeah. I really couldn’t resist. It is as good as it sounds.
We raise Saxony ducks, and we slaughtered these boys at four months old, which was too soon. We really should have waited another couple of months. They averaged about four pounds, and they’ll keep growing, so we should wait. I was so worried about the drakes turning into assholes like the Pekin ducks did, but these guys weren’t really a problem at all, so we should try to keep them longer next year. We kept a breeding flock of 14 ducks and a drake, so hopefully we’ll have lots of babies this spring.
Preserving the meat itself was quite simple. I did both breasts and legs because I was too busy to think of something else to do with the legs, and made stock with the carcass. All you do is score the skin, then cover in salt for 24 hours. Then rinse off the salt and hang in a cool room for a week. We used onion bags to hang them in, and hung them from the ceiling in our farm office, which rarely goes above 50 degrees.
We let it hang a little too long, but it still tastes amazingly good. There’s a little bit of dried edges that are a bit tough, but not too tough to eat. We’ve eaten both of the breasts today for breakfast and lunch, and I’m trying to decide what I want to do with the meat from the legs. (I guess I’ll store it in the icebox until I decide. ?)
For breakfast, I decided that we would go all duck. These ducks laid eggs really late into the year and I still have quite a number of them left. So I rendered the fat from the meat, then fried purple potatoes in it. I poached the duck eggs and put that on top, and then put the meat on top of that. Oh man oh man was it lip-smackingly good. Yum!
For lunch, I made a pretty simple salad. I made some croutons in the duck fat left from the morning, with a little garlic as well. Then I piled blue cheese and the prosciutto on top of salad greens with a simple vinaigrette dressing. Frank liked it so much he had thirds, so I’m going to call that a success.