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Duck or Goose Prosciutto

duck prosciutto recipe

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Duck or goose prosciutto is an old Italian tradition that originated in the country’s Jewish community, for whom regular prosciutto was forbidden. The process was designed for domestic ducks and geese, and by all means use this recipe for those critters if you’d like.

But air-cured wild goose breasts (most wild duck breasts will be too small to really do this recipe justice), are something special. Slice it as thin as you can on the diagonal and serve it with melon, figs, good cheese, on top of a fried egg, with bruschetta — you get the point.

I will give you two recipes: One for a “sweet” cure, the other for a spicy one. This is what I do when I want to make Italian-style goose prosciutto: You can mess around with the spices as you wish, but until you do this a few times, don’t change the amount of salt and sugar.

The sweet cure needs watching as it dries — it is more prone to mold than the spicy variety. Remember that white, powdery mold is OK, white fuzzy is not harmful but should be wiped off, green fuzzy needs to be wiped off the moment you spot it, and black mold is bad: I toss the breast if I get the black stuff. When sketchy mold does appear, I wipe it off every other day with a paper towel soaked in red wine vinegar.

How long to cure? From 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the size of the breasts and the amount of fat and the temperature and the humidity. I cure mine for two months by starting the drying in 85 percent humidity, then ratcheting it down 5 percent a week each week until I get to 60 percent, then I hold it there. Why so long? Because I get a funkier, more richly flavored piece of meat that way. You can make decent duck prosciutto in a few weeks, but the longer you can go, the better.

Once the goose prosciutto is cured, you can eat it straight away or wrap it and store it in the fridge. It also freezes well for a year or more.

duck prosciutto

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

SWEET GOOSE PROSCIUTTO

Makes 2 slabs of cured goose breast.

Prep Time: 30 days

  • 1 goose breast or domestic duck breast, both halves (skin on)
  • 3/4 cup  kosher salt or pickling salt
  • 1/4 cup  sugar
  • 2 tablespoons  garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon  ground fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon  ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon  ground clove
  • 1/2 teaspoon  grated nutmeg

 

SPICY GOOSE PROSCIUTTO

Makes 2 slabs of cured goose breast.

Prep Time: 30 days

  • 1 goose breast or domestic duck breast, both halves (skin on)
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt or pickling salt
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon mild paprika
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried, crumbled oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper

  1. First a note on the meat. When you breast out the bird, leave as much skin and fat on it as possible; you’ll get these “tails” of skin on both the tail and neck end of the bird if you do, and this is what you want: They will come in handy later. If you haven’t already, peel off the “tender” on the meat side of the breast. Deep-fry in batter and enjoy!
  2. Mix all the spices together in a large bowl. Coat the goose or duck breasts in the mixture well. Massage it into the meat, and make sure every bit of it has cure on it. Pour any extra cure into a non-reactive container just about large enough to hold the goose breasts. Place the goose breasts on top and cover.
  3. Cure in the fridge for 1-3 days. The longer you cure, the saltier the prosciutto will be. The saltier it will be, the longer it will keep — but the thinner you will need to shave it when you eat it. A mallard, Ross’s goose, Aleutian or cackler goose needs only a day; 36 hours at the most. I give domestic ducks, snow geese or whitefront geese (specks) two days. A big Canada or a domestic goose will need three or even four days.
  4. Flip the breast once a day to ensure even contact with the extra cure.
  5. When it’s done, rinse off the cure and dry the breasts thoroughly. A lot of people will tell you to rinse off every smidge of cure, but I don’t like this — I like the few remaining bits here or there. But you need to get most of it off, and it is imperative that you dry the goose breasts off after rinsing. Let the breasts dry on a rack, skin side down, for an hour or two.
  6. Now it’s time to hang them. You will need a humid place (60-85 percent humidity) that is between 40-65 degrees to hang your goose prosciutto. Poke a hole in one of the skin “tails” and either run an “S” hook through it or some string. Hang on a rack so it does not touch anything else for a few weeks.

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3 responses to “Duck or Goose Prosciutto”

  1. Richard Kress

    EXCELLENT!!!!!!!
    R

  2. Tonypet

    This looks fantastic and I want to try it as I just took up Canada Goose hunting and have bagged a few.

    Question 1: Can you do this with a breast that was previously frozen, or does it have to be fresh?

    Question 2: what if it does not have skin?

    Thanks

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