When I first heard about Charcutepalooza, a year-long foray into the “craft of salting, smoking and curing”, I did not hesitate to sign on.

homemade prosciutto

Cathy Barrow and Kim Foster, the brains behind Charcutepalooza, are buddies of mine not just on the internet (to the point that I “dm” them both all the time on twitter), but great friends in the flesh, as well. I’d be a part of any group they dreamed up, no matter how ridiculous.

Charcutepalooza isn’t silly, though. Fun, yes: lots of breast jokes were made on twitter when we took on the first challenge (making prosciutto involved lots of massaging of our duck breasts, you see). But silly, no.

A craft that was “invented” to preserve meat before refrigeration, charcuterie is something that deeply interests me for the following reasons:

  • I’m careful about the meat I eat and make every attempt to eat meat raised in the most natural and humane way possible.
  • If I’m going to eat foods like bacon and sausage, I make sure they are preserved in chemical-free manner.
  • I love learning about traditional foods and food preparation techniques….things that used to be made at home, but aren’t much anymore.

As mentioned above, for our first project, charcutapalooza-ers were tasked with making duck prosciutto. The recipe, from Michael Ruhlman’s book Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing, is simple (I’m pretty sure more complicated ones will come later); the only challenge here was finding a suitable place to hang the salted duck breasts for 8 days (you need a spot that’s 50-60 degrees, with proper humidity levels).

The unfinished section of my basement worked out perfectly: the prosciutto was delicious and I enjoyed it a number of ways, including in this salad with organic baby spinach, local apples, and cashews.

The duck breasts I used were larger than those of the average duck because they came from moulard ducks raised for foie gras. I purchased them from Hudson Valley Foie Gras, a local company which, unlike most foie gras farms, maintains their ducks cage-free.

homemade duck prosciutto

Baby Spinach Salad with Apple, Cashews and Duck Prosciutto

Serves 2

Ingredients:

*2-3 cups baby spinach
*1 crunchy apple, preferably a Honeycrisp or Fuji, thinly sliced
*1/4 cup raw cashews
*10-12 very thin slices of prosciutto (I used homemade duck prosciutto)
*1 small shallot, minced
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*1 tablespoon rice vinegar
*2 teaspoons pure maple syrup
*sea salt and fresh ground black pepper- to taste

Directions:

1. Toss the salad ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. In a smaller bowl, mix the dressing ingredients (minced shallot, olive oil, rice vinegar and maple syrup) and pour over the salad. Mix well.

3. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper before serving, if desired.

prosciutto salad

 

15 Comments

  1. 1

    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — January 15, 2011 @ 9:58 am

    Absolutely beautiful Winnie! Can’t WAIT for mine to be ready – grrrr!

  2. 2

    Sommer J — January 15, 2011 @ 10:57 am

    love it!!! how inspiring.

  3. 3

    Sandy@EverydaySouthwest — January 15, 2011 @ 11:10 am

    Fantastic! I’m going to try this. Wish me luck (and the poor souls who are my first guinea pigs)!

    Thanks for spreading the word about Charcutepalooza… It sounds like a fun group to join.

  4. 4

    Jennifer Hess — January 15, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

    Beautiful! I love Hudson Valley Duck – we used to get it all the time when we were in New York.

  5. 5

    Laura — January 15, 2011 @ 1:24 pm

    Wow, I’m impressed that you made duck prosciutto at home! Looks delicious! I’m all about finding the most friendly ways to eat meat – both for the environment and for the animals – and it sounds like this is a great way to do the same with the curing process!

  6. 6

    Sarah — January 15, 2011 @ 2:48 pm

    That salad looks amazing! I’m so stealing the idea of wrapping up a slice of the remaining prosciutto in my fridge around a wedge of apple. Yum!

    May actually have to go do that right now. . . looking forward to reading your post from February’s challenge!

    Best,
    Sarah

  7. 7

    Ally — January 15, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

    Winnie,

    Hi! I need your expertise! My 17 year old son was diagnosed with high blood pressure. He is a high school basketball player, exercises all the time, not an ounce of fat on him. Both his father and I have low blood pressure. I am to get him on a low sodium diet (he is a teenager, fairly healthy eater, but come on)!! Are there any blog sources out there that you know of that are dedicated to low salt diets? I am going to get the DASH book, and hoping the recipes have flavor. I have a friend who’s husband is a heart surgeon and his nurses tell people to flavor with vinegar and lemon juice. I am not a great cook, I can follow a recipe but am just clueless about what to add instead of salt. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you, and love your blog!
    Ally

  8. 8

    Homemade Duck Prosciutto and a Tartine | TasteFood — January 15, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

    [...] how about these Charcutepalooza entries from the food blogs: XXX Nibbles from Bona Fide Farm Food Baby Spinach Salad with Apple, Cashews and Duck Prosciutto from Healthy Green [...]

  9. 9

    Janis — January 15, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

    Oh sister in meat… Excellent post and your duck breast look perfect. I just unveiled mine tonight and although they look whimpy in size they taste great.

  10. 10

    Nancy/SpicieFoodie — January 16, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

    Wow, your Duck prosciutto looks beautiful and delicious. It sounds like Charcutepalooza is a great event and one to keep an eye on. I am looking forward to your other challenges. The salad looks so fresh, healthy and well just delicious.
    ( I would also like to comment on something else but I don’t want it to come off as me being judgmental nor confrontational with you, please don’t take it that way. I commend you for “eating meat raised in the most natural and humane way possible.” It is something more of us need to be aware of. That said Foie Gras is not a humane food item. In fact the way it’s produced is the Ducks are forced fed with a tube repeatedly throughout the day to fatten them up. You can confirm this on PETA’s site and other sources. It’s great that the company you bought from keeps the animals cage free, but perhaps they also need to state how they fatten their Ducks. I understand you didn’t use Foie Gras in this recipe but still just wanted to say this since many people are unaware about the production of Foie Gras. Thank you:) )

    • Winnie replied: — January 16th, 2011 @ 7:14 pm

      Nancy,
      You are right. Foie Gras is a very controversial food product, and one I choose not to eat. And in fact I have rarely eaten duck before I made this prosciutto…
      Hudson Valley Foie Gras is very open about their farm, though, and regularly invites members of the public and press to visit. They say have no secrets and welcome scrutiny (unlike most places that produce foie gras).

  11. 11

    Monet — January 16, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

    I am so impressed with you! I don’t eat much meat, but when I do…I want it to be humanely raised and prepared in a delectable way. I want it to be something worth talking about! This duck prosciutto sounds amazing, and I can’t believe that you preserved this yourself. You are an amazing woman! The salad recipe you included sounds lovely. I imagine that the apples and the cashew added a great crunch. Thank you for sharing your recipe with me. I can’t believe the weekend is already over…I hope you have a fabulous start to your week!

  12. 12

    Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. — January 17, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

    Great information. This salad looks wonderful. Loving your site!

  13. 13

    pleasurepalate — January 17, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

    I love duck proscuitto. I had it for the first time at Bouchon in Beverly Hills and it was the favorite of everyone on the charcuterie plate. Speaking of duck, I’ve had duck carnitas tacos as well at a restaurant in Eagle Rock called Cacao Mexitacassen, so that might be a fun recipe to develop. :)

  14. 14

    Annie — January 18, 2011 @ 6:46 pm

    This salad looks so delicious and colorful!