The original deadline for this month’s #Charcutepalooza challenge has come and gone, but I had started this entry back then.

I didn’t have the book, but I did have a recipe for duck hams and I used that. Same basic principle, but different in spices and the addition of sugar in the cure.

I started out with two of Mary’s Duck breasts. I got them frozen at the Berkeley Bowl West. I did some cursory investigation into how Mary’s operates and it seems to be a pretty good place to buy poultry from. Certainly better than Foster Farms, although it could be just a lot of good PR. I need to do some more research.

P1050439The breasts came as two whole breasts. We ate one for dinner and it was delicious. The other I split and brined with salt, sugar, fresh thyme, peppercorns, and coriander. I placed a brick wrapped in foil I keep in the kitchen over them and put them in the refrigerator overnight, which really was about 18 hours.

When they came out they were significantly darker in color and had shP1050464runk. I wrapped them in swaddling clothes and hung them in a manger. The garage, I mean. They were weighed first and labeled. The goal reduction in weight is 30%, although many in the challenge are just going by time and feel, i.e. squishiness.

After three days they had lost 15% in weight. The recipe I had said to hang them for “a couple of weeks”. That was starting to look like it might be too long. But then a couple of days later and the number has barely moved. Days after that the deadline loomed, but was extended. After reading some suggestions I put them in the little fridge I have with some salted water. The problem might have been too little humidity. I was thinking the opposite. I left them in there for a few more days and they still felt too squishy to me, so I hung them back up in the garage. It’s two days later and I’m declaring them done.

Now that the book has arrived I’ve noticed some differences in the recipes, the main one though was rolling the breasts before wrapping in cheesecloth and hanging. It may be why mine took a bit longer to hang. With these small breasts I think it works well.

They’re yummy, but pretty rich with all that fat. I had hoped to use them with this recipe last Saturday for a dinner party, but didn’t get to. Now what shall I do with them? Hmm, time to peruse the other #Charcutepalooza entries.

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Meanwhile I have pancetta in process right now, next month’s challenge.