duck prosciutto

 

Did you know that you can cure meat at home using nothing more than a wine refrigerator? 

This was my first attempt at meat curing, and I’d say it went fantastically well.  This project was inspired by Matt Wright and his insanely beautiful blog, WrightFood.  Matt has some serious curing experience under his belt, and offers detailed recipes and techniques for home curing.  For this project, I followed his recipe for Duck Prosciutto (recipe is towards the bottom of the post). 

The recipe calls for curing duck breasts in salt for 24 hours before hanging them up to cure at 55F with 60% relative humidity until they have lost 30% of their original mass. 

Although I’ve got big plans in my head for building a high-tech curing chamber (one day), I also remembered that I had an unused wine refrigerator sitting in the basement.  Nothing is sadder than an empty wine fridge, so I decided to repurpose it for a bold new mission.  The fridge has an adjustable temperature setting for champagne, whites, reds and long-term storage.  Luckily for me, one of those settings corresponds to 55F.  I didn’t bother measuring the humidity in the wine fridge, but I reasoned that it would have to maintain a reasonable humidity level to keep wine corks from drying out.  The fridge also has a small fan, which is great for circulating the air inside and a desirable condition for curing meat. 

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proscuitto-wrapped shrimp
Shrimp just loves to take on other flavors, especially hot ones.  My favorite spice for lighting up shrimp is mace, as you may have seen in a previous recipe.  If you happen to be assaulted while enjoying this dish, just rub the shrimp in your assailant’s eyes.  Plus, you can poke him with the pointy end of the skewer.

Makes: 4 self-defense skewers
Total kitchen time: 20 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1 dz. uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, tails removed
  • 6 slices Prosciutto de Parma
  • 4 bamboo skewers, soaked in cold water
  • 1/4 tsp. ground mace
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 tbsp. blackberry preserves
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped mint leaves
  • 3 tbsp. tawny port
  • sea salt, to taste
  1. Preheat your grill on medium high.
  2. Slice each piece of prosciutto lengthwise and carefully wrap it around a shrimp.  Skewer the shrimp through the tail and the thickest part so it stays securely on the skewer.  Repeat for the remaining shrimp, three to a skewer.
  3. Lightly salt and pepper the wrapped shrimp skewers.  Then, sprinkle with the mace.  Adjust the amount to your personal preference – remember, this stuff is pretty strong.  Refrigerate the skewers until you’re ready to grill.
  4. In a small saucepan, combine the blackberry preserves, chopped mint and port.  Heat until boiling over medium heat, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  If you’re sauce is slightly lumpy or coagulated, pour it into a small food processor and run on high for 90 seconds. 
  5. Grill the shrimp skewers over high heat for 1 minute or so per side.  They won’t take long, so be careful not to overcook.  Plate up and enjoy!

Of course, these skewers would pair nicely with melon or cilantro as well.  Just be careful – those are weapons you’re holding.  Hot, delicious weapons.  Mmmmm….

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