Friday, October 29, 2010

Little bundles of joy

...or botulism.

Carrying on from where we began our duck prosciutto adventure:

I dusted the salt off, rinsed them, patted them dry.

I got nervous when I checked Voer's duck prosciutto method again. They left their duck breasts in salt for 48 hours, not Charcuterie's stipulated 24.

Why? More liquid extraction?

And they say to check for 'doneness' by weighing the breasts, that they should lose about 20% of their weight. So please weigh in on how you arrived this method, which I trust implicitly, but was expecting to find in The Book. And didn't.

So I weighed, and each breast is exactly 1lb, which is bit creepy.Then I ground white and a little black pepper over them and added some juniper berries. I'm not used to white pepper.

The Frenchie, it is worth mentioning, is all fired up. He loves eating, but is less excited about cooking. Until The Book. Now he wants to make sausage. He keeps saying, What's next, and Maybe we should get a sausage machine. I think he may have found a food calling.

After wrapping: the recipe says 'a layer of muslin' but it ought to be more clear. One layer of muslin is very, very flimsy and quite indecent. My duck is swaddled in about 6. Yes! it can breathe! I think. See, totally insecure about raw meat. The Frenchie says don't worry. I look at him, like, have you forgotten who you're talking to?

Then they were hung on the terrace underneath a chair on the table. You gotta do what you gotta do. Our options are limited. We figure, air circulation + cool air + dew protection + Unknown Risk Factor Which Makes It Seem Important. If it rains they must come in. But the duck forecast is fine.

The cat is merely curious and is not a thief, oddly, but two blue jays did visit, which is worrying. Maybe coincidence. The squirrel clutched its heart and beat a retreat.

Squirrel hocks.

That's what's next.


  1. my money is on the squirrels coming back to investigate. not that i wish it; i am just too experienced with the varmints. if they do, try the lightweight bird netting to drape over them.

    but it is very funny who is the concerned food-safety party in this endeavor...

  2. Super super exciting!

    Ek kan nie veel raad gee oor J se aanwysings nie, ek kan nie onthou hoekom hy dit vir 48 laat le^ het nie. Dit mag very well wees dat ons net nie tyd gekry het vir die res van die prosedure nie, en toe staan dit vir nog 'n dag. Haha. Ja, dit was tien teen een dit. Dit klink nogal na ons.

  3. En dis so cool dat Vince opgewonde raak daaroor! Ons dink ook daaroor om 'n vleismeul te kry vir wors maak. Pret pret pret.

  4. Is humidity an enemy? Whenever I asked local guys about their dried sausage, they often said they didn't make in summer. Heat bad. OK, but what about other air qualities?

  5. donna, of squirrels, yes, suspicious I am...

    arcadia, ja, dit is! Vleismeul. My ma het 'n outydse, handcranked een. Miskien sal ek in Kaapstad moet begin oefen.

    Frank, I was under the impression that humidity was Bad. In SA we made biltong - like jerky but better :-) - in the dry winters. But, to quote Ruhlman:

    'Hang the duck breasts in a cool humid place for about 7 days (50-60' F is optimal)...'

    The idea being that dry-dry air makes the outside dry fast and traps moisture inside the meat, resulting in rotten interior. Oh, yummy.

    But there is humidity and there is humidity. So...?

  6. Fired up is an understatement. And I AM watching that squirrel like a hawk. Hmm, literally it would seem.

  7. We could make terrace sausage: one part squirrel, one part red tailed hawk, a pinch of blue jay, all stuffed into cat casings. We have all the herbs we need.

  8. ...with side of pickled green cicada.

  9. Oi joi joi
    You are taking a risk here Chicky.
    Abandon ship. NOW

  10. I side with your mother on this one, Marie.
    It's one of those times when an *experienced* person should be there to say yay or nay.

  11. MOTHER and mit - I appreciate your concern, but the likelihood of botulism is extremely rare - it thrives in an anaerobic environment (garlic in olive oil, home-canned food), which is not what the duck is in: nice cool, breezy air.

    Moenie worrie nie!


  12. Pee ess

    25 people a year die of botulism poisoning. 90 people a year are killed by lightning. 41,000 are killed by cars.

  13. I trust you implicitly (and your recipe) and wouldn't worry about botulism. And I hear squirrel is delicious!

  14. I'm sorry if I sounded scary!
    I'm sure you read and double-checked the book!
    But you (and other readers) might like to read this.
    This(obviously) is about poultry, but the site also looks at meat, game, fish.
    No, I do not cure my own meats. I go to a reliable supplier.(have not found one here, so sometimes buy from supermarket.)

  15. That sounds SO GOOD!!!

    In Denmark duck is one of the main Christmas foods, so I will definitely be experimenting with this over the coming month to make a perfect duck prosciutto as an alternative to the eternal roast duck.


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