Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Long before I had a blog to call my own I would read others' and envy their ability to participate in "challenges" that involved regularly cooking certain types of food or from specific cookbooks.  Anyone that knows me knows I like projects... sometimes these projects are seen through to the end and other times they're abandoned early on. I'm excited to say that I've signed up to participate in a challenge that not only has relatively lax rules (do what you can when you can) but if it goes according to plan, it will keep me in cured meat for the whole year!

The project I'm taking part in is called Charcutepalooza and it's being hosted by Mrs. Wheelbarrow and The Yummy Mummy on Mrs. Wheelbarrow's blog.  The challenge is to make something out of Michael Ruhlman's (fabulous) book Charcuterie every month and post about it on the 15th.  The first challenge is Duck Prosciutto and I've already got some curing in the wine fridge.

The best part of this project (so far... since the prosciutto isn't ready to taste) is all the other things you get when you buy a whole duck instead of just the breasts.  Once I broke down the duck for the breasts, I had two legs, thighs, and a carcass.  I know that doesn't sound especially appealing but I generally use every possible part of the meat I buy and this was no different. I confit'd the legs and thighs in my sous vide supreme (an INCREDIBLE tool making sous vide accessible to home cooks that we'll discuss later).  I also trimmed all the fat and skin and slowly rendered the fat.

What resulted from this was about a cup of duck skin cracklins and about a cup of duck fat (ie liquid gold).

Finally, I used the carcass along with some veal bones to make a delicious (albeit unusual) stock.  Phew!

Check back on the 15th for the (hopefully) tasty results!

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