like nancy, i am also doing the charcuterie challenge and have begun with the duck prosciutto. they've been hanging in my front hall (which was 50 degrees when i checked on 30 degree days... not sure what it was like on those colder days) for about a week now and are still not ready. i'm using a "squeeze" method of checking them instead of weighing them for 30% water loss and i think i'll be able to comfortably tell when they're done. so far i can feel them firming up but they are clearly squishy in the middle still.
my progress has been thus: last saturday i salted them for 24 hours. it took far more salt than the recipe called for to get the breast fully covered, probably because my pan wasn't an ideal size. it was a shame to pour all that salt out when i was done, but it would have been more awful if i had ruined the breast right away. after 24 hours i rinsed them, then dried them lightly with a kitchen cloth. i did not have cheesecloth so i am hanging them with another kitchen towel that has a tight weave but is very thin. i don't know what effect this will have on drying but i've heard more than one person report their drying process took more than 1 week so i'm comfortable that the time it's taking to cure has to do with temperature, humidity, and the original state of the breast in addition to my choice of hanging materials.
the only thing i'm a little worried about is that i didn't spice the breasts at all. at first i wondered if i should go and spice them late (they clearly have several days left on them) but i'm curious now what will happen if i leave them. plus i don't want to unwrap them and wrap them again.
would love to hear if anyone has experience making prosciutto, or any other charcuterie, actually. this is all very new to me- i don't even entirely understand the principles and am just following along with instructions!
luckily, the duck prosciutto is the one that i've actually done! i keep meaning to get to the others, but nothing so far...
anyway, the duck didn't cure in the time they suggested- two weeks, i think. it let it sit until it felt almost ready, then cut it open to check to see if i was feeling for the right thing. (it felt soft inside, but i was worried that it was the fat that felt soft, not the actual inside.) it was clear it needed more time so i hung them again in our cold front hall and they finished quickly- in about a week. i'm not a huge fan of duck but i generally liked the flavor of it and the texture was good. i didn't put spices on mine so i think it would (could?) have been even better with spices.
the next challenge will be given on the 15th so i'm hoping to get in on that one. there was a bacon challenge that i'll try to go back and do because who wouldn't like to know how to make their own bacon?!
are you doing the challenge, lucille? i'd love to compare notes with someone!
I'm using recipes from Wild Fermentation and Charcuterie for most of cooking these days. I'm enjoying trying new things.
The bacon and pancetta came out really nice. The corned beef is tasty too. The dogs love the grisly parts that I am reluctant to eat.
The duck prosciutto was good, not too strongly flavored of duck, quite salty and a nice condiment to flavor other dishes or on the antipasto plate. I made duck confit with the duck legs (yummy) and duck broth with the carcass. The broth went into a risotto with the confit - yummy again!
I have a pork confit in the fridge waiting to be eaten. Having received a boston butt in my Piggery share this week, I'm making pork rillettes today and the house is smelling so good it's making me really hungry. I'll pull out the confit and make another risotto, although this time I may use up some of my other grains gathered during the Stocking Up on Staples workshop.
All of these were quite simple and although the cooking time or curing time is long, none of them took much attention during those times.
Ludgate Farms has some nice beef briskets in the fridge, picking spices, curing salt, and the Charcuterie book all neatly arranged within six feet of each other - easy to pick up. I'd encourage anyone to give it a try. If you start today, you can just be ready in time for St. Patrick's Day.