First, a bit of shameless self-promotion:
The Choral Arts Society of Washington (of which I am a member) is performing Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana with the National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Rafael Frübeck de Burgos and featuring soloists Nicholas Phan (tenor), Laura Claycomb (soprano), and Hugh Russell (baritone). The performances will take place at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on the evenings of September 29th, 30th, and October 1st. Also on the program is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8.
Please come hear what is going to be a really spectacular show! Tickets are available through the Kennedy Center’s website here: http://www.kennedy-center.org/events/?event=NLCSV#blurb
Secondly, football season is at last in full swing, which is awesome, and also means the return of fantasy football. Let me tell you, team Merchant of Menace is looking pretty good so far (fingers crossed) aside from an injury or two. Here’s this year’s lineup so that I can look back at the end of the season and go “What was I thinking?” But hopefully not. The starters are in boldface:
- QBs: Matt Ryan, Kyle Orton
- WRs: Roddy White, Mike Wallace, Kenny Britt, Pierre Garcon, Hines Ward
- RBs: LeSean McCoy, Tim Hightower, Ryan Mathews, LaDanian Tomlinson
- TEs: Owen Daniels, Aaron Hernandez
- K: Sebastian Janikowski
- DEF: New England
I’ve been luckier than most the first few weeks. My only major downer is Aaron Hernandez going down with a sprained MCL. It could be anywhere from 2-6 weeks before he returns, but I’ll keep him on the bench until I absolutely need the roster spot. It’s a shame; he started off the season really strong.
Now let’s switch gears entirely and talk about duck. How is it that in all of my charcuterie posts from earlier this year that I never got around to sharing the delightful creation known as duck prosciutto? You can even see it hanging in the pictures of the pancetta and soppressata!
But honestly, it’s a good thing that I waited. Really. I’ve made the duck prosciutto from Charcuterie a few times now with my own little changes and have discovered a few things along the way that I think will make your first time trying it more successful. This is definitely the easiest charcuterie project to take on, so if you’re looking for a place to start, you’ve found it.
Duck Prosciutto, adapted from Charcuterie, by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn
- One duck breast (I normally use a moulard duck breast weighing in around 20 oz.)
- 2 cups kosher salt
- Fresh sage and orange zest
- Cheesecloth and butcher’s twine
First, find a lidded container that will snugly fit your duck breast. I use a small rectangular Ziploc tub, but a 1 qt. oval baking dish covered with plastic wrap would work well too.
Pat the duck breast dry and set aside.
Combine the 2 cups of salt with the herbs and zest to make a cure. You can use other flavors too. Some people like to add crushed juniper berries, herbs de provence, or a combination of hot pepper and brown sugar to their cure. Think about the kind of flavors you like. For my preference, nothing brightens up duck like orange zest and a few torn sage leaves.
Pour one cup of the salt cure into the storage tub or baking dish and place the duck breast on top of it. Pack enough of the remaining cure around and on top of it to just cover the surface on all sides. Cover the container and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Remove the duck breast from the cure and rinse it under cool water. Pat it dry once again and weigh it.
Wrap the duck breast in a layer of cheesecloth and hang it in a cool, dark, and mildly humid place to dry. Ideal conditions are around 60 degrees F. and 60-70% humidity.
Hang for 1-2 weeks, or until it has lost 1/3rd of its original weight. Store wrapped in butcher paper in the refrigerator or vacuum seal for longer-term storage. Serve very thinly sliced with peppery greens like arugula, and fresh tomatoes.
On slicing: To make it easier to slice thin, you can put the duck breast in the freezer for a half-hour or so prior to slicing to make it firmer. And just look at the beautiful color:
Happy Autumn to you all. I assure you that after the Carmina Burana performances, I’ll be back with more fall (football!) recipes.
Ciao for now,