Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A whole lot of sumthin goin on...

Where do I start? Ok ok... I joined the Charcutepalooza group! Yay... what is it? It is a year of meat. Every month a new meat. Sorry vegetarian pals because once a month it may get a little graphic. If you hold on though there is something for YOU too. A really amazing vegetable stock.


So, it all started with a duck. Charcutepalooza picks something from "Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing" by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. We are all making Duck Prosciutto. So the story begins:

I was sitting at work in Westford, Massachusetts and trying to figure out where to get duck breasts. I doubted that any grocery stores around would have them. Fortunately we do have lots of farms around. I started to look into it. Nothing was going my way until I saw that there was the "New Oriental Market" down the street from work. I called. I conquered. I went and picked up that little duck and felt the victory of the hunt. One small setback is that it was frozen. Ok, well it will just have to thaw.

I started to do my research of how to cut up a duck. I have never cut a bird before so I needed to learn. I consulted with Julia and Jacque on this one.


I trusted Julia more than I did Jacque so I studied her techniqe (sorry Jacque if you are reading my blog). One hitch was that I didn't have a boning knife but I did have a sharp knife and a pair of shears and I wasn't afraid to use them. Ok, maybe a little but I braved through the terror.


I went back and watched videos and looked all kinds of stuff up on the internet. I took a deep breath and began.


My tool of the trade. Pretty pathetic no? Ok, I did had scissors too and I might have just done a bit of ripping with my bare hands as well. Fast forward a bit and this is what I ended up with (ok Vegetarians I didn't want to get to graphic because I love you too).


Voila! Duck breast. Now I was on a roll. I didn't want to waste anything so I rendered the fat for a future use.



I then was ready to salt and leave overnight, but I must have blacked out because there are no pictures of this. Once again I feel like Carlton the doorman (if you are too young for the reference look it up on the internet) and I forgot to take pictures of the salting process. Although sometimes I am a bit "forgetful" I do have my lucid moments and I came up with a brilliant idea for these duck breasts. I have a smoking gun and I thought it would be cool to smoke the salt with it. I used applewood to do this.


I also thought that Bourbon and Maple would taste good with this (well, I thought about it for a while I didn't just COME UP with it). So, I decided to soak the cheesecloth overnight in Jim Beam and Maple syrup (which I got locally of course).


After the duck breasts came out of the salt (I keep saying DUCK breasts instead of just BREASTS because I don't want to embarass anyone) it was time to wrap them in cheesecloth.


There is just one problem with these breasts (duck). They are REALLY small. Ok, no jokes here because we are all grownups and it is unnecessary . I think this may be a problem in the overall process but we will see.


They are weighed before hanging because the way to tell if they are ready is when they weigh 30% less than when you started.


This is the part that Dr Food wasn't really too happy about. I went to the basement and hijacked his wine refrig. Ok, nevermind the fact that since moving from California the damn thing is pretty empty. No more wine clubs that brought us at least 4 bottles a month. This stupid state doesn't allow wine to be shipped to my house. Ok, back on the subject of duck (breasts).


The temp was perfect for this procedure so Dr. Food lost the battle.


This is where they remain for 3 more days. Stay tuned and you can see how it all turns out and what I do with the end product. That is if I don't die from being poisoned.

So onto the Vegetarian section of this blog post. I found a recipe for a vegetable stock that intrigued me. So this weekend Dr. Food and I went to a place that all the locals kept telling me that I would love. The place is called Rousso's and it is amazing. It has a huge selection of produce and other great stuff. I was a happy women shopping in there.


How pretty is that? I chopped up all the stuff that was called for in the recipe which I got from In Jennie's Kitchen I loved the fact that the vegetables remain raw. You need to check out this recipe and make some. I have to warn you that it IS salty because you use 7 oz of salt as a curing agent. When you reconstitute it all will be fine.


Oh and one more thing (yes, I am chatty today because Dr. Food had the stomach flu and he didn't talk much. Just sat there and groaned and so I am a bit um...ya know...what is the word for it? )


I was chosen to be a "Recipe Tester" for Leites Culinaria and although I am not really allowed to talk about the recipes I can just say that I had fun cooking this weekend.


  1. Nice job on the duck! My wife and I thought about attempting it after seeing Julie and Julia on DVD....your blog did show on one of my Google Alerts, for "wine club"......I can't agree more that not being able to ship to Mass.....sucks.

  2. Envious! I wanted to cure a duck last year but time, patience, cash ran away from me. I'm excited to see how it turns out.

  3. I am so very, very impressed with your breasts (ok, so I'm an adult, but I can't help snickering like a pre-teen). Seriously, you did an incredible job getting them hanged. I can't wait to see how they turn out. What a amazing job.

    I can't tell you how much it warmed me to see the picture of Julia's arthritic, gnarled hands. I knew immediately who it was. They inspire trust and confidence, don't they?

    Thanks for a fun, informative and wonderful read.

  4. Boy am I glad you didn't cut your finger off. Is your knife sharp? I hope so!! Sharp knives are safer than dull ones. Okay, I'll try not to worry. Also: nice breasts!

  5. I am not too fond of the Duck, maybe it is because I served so many fanned duck breasts with a fruit sauce du jour. I did however, enjoy making duck confit with the legs, and it didn't taste so bad. I am not too adventurous with meat. Your feelings for Massachusetts crack me up, Can't wait to see the final product.

  6. Wow! So cool that you hung your duck with your good wine... ;)

  7. You are one determined woman. I'll be anxious to hear if you enjoyed the done duck. I am new to your blog, so I spent some time browsing through your earlier posts. I really enjoy the banter and the food you feature here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  8. I made my own duck pastrami just a couple of weeks ago, and I can't get enough of it! Don't be afraid to let it hang for an extra day or two to really get the last of the moisture out. I look forward to how yours turns out!


  9. Looking forward to this - I don't understand some of the USA laws on drink. Why can't you have wine shipped to your house? what will you do with it?

  10. ambitious of you to start with the whole duckie- i love fabricating ducks and chickens- one of my favorite things. and good luck with your boobs- one of my fave Ruhlman recipes as long as you be sure to let it cure until it's completely done (longer than he suggests every time i've made it...).

  11. Pauline, they wont ship wine here because they are corrupt and it always comes down to money.

  12. Sallty so happy you said that. My duck boobs are still not done and it has been 6 days.

  13. Very entertaining :) Now I understand the "Duck" in the "Wine Fridge" comment. You are so funny, when you're on a roll! I love it!