Another pâté to add to the collection, this one has some seasonality to it with the huckleberries. Fresh huckleberries have been popping up in the past few weeks and they are delicious. You can certainly use frozen huckleberries from the previous season or buy a bundle and freeze them yourself for future culinary endeavors.
I used the same base recipe from previous pâté ventures, but I made some small changes. The biggest change was the protein, we had a mass amount of pigs this summer, therefore, the protein was changed to pork. The pork that I had was very lean so I added some chilled pork fat. The liver will remain as duck, and the same general spices will be used. The addition of lobster mushroom powder will add some earthiness, not that it needs a lot more, and the huckleberries add a nice savory fruit note that can mellow the salt quite a bit. The last item that was added were hazelnuts, we recently started buying hazelnuts from a local roaster in Eugene, OR by the name of Evonuk Oregon Hazelnuts. They deal mostly in wholesale but their products are not to be passed up. Their hazelnuts are carefully picked and are very consistent, they have a very nice floral note that I have never tasted in a hazelnut.
As much as I love prosciutto, it can be a very expensive investment and once it has taken its sweet time to cure and age it should be eaten quickly, although it can be portioned and placed in the freezer to make it last longer. Since I am only making prosciutto for myself I decided to use duck breasts, they are easier to work with when beginning to cure meat and it will fit in my larder better than a full pig leg. The technique that I am about to show you came from a butcher in Portland, OR, that I learned to cure meat from by the name of Eric Finley, Chop, Butchery & Charcuterie.
For my first run of duck prosciutto I am going to use Peking duck breasts, as they are more common and cheaper. They have a decent amount of fat on the breasts and a pretty neutral duck flavor, since they are farmed and not wild. The trick to a good prosciutto is to cure and age the meat encased in fat/skin to prevent the flesh from spoiling and drying out. To ensure that the meat is fully encased in fat I am going to sew two duck breasts together by the skin. Doing this will give me a larger portion of meat to serve as well as the fat, which will absorb the flavors of the cure. I created two samples and the duck breast that was sewn together will be the first, for the second, I decided to take a different approach. I recently picked up a small amount of “Meat Glue”, or Transglutaminase/Activa (not to be confused with Activia®) from Modernistpantry.com to play and experiment with. For those that do not know what this product is you can read about it here. Instead of sewing the breast together, I “glued” them together, and after 24 hours of setting time for the glue to activate, I had conjoined duck breasts that were ready for curing.
Start by laying the flesh side of the two duck breasts together to determine whether the fat will be able to encase the meat. If it doesn’t, do not worry, you will just need a little warm duck fat later to rub onto the flesh. Sprinkle a pinch of pink salt onto the flesh side of each duck breast and begin to sew them together.
I tied a loop with a knot in one end that will hold the twine in place and allow me to hang the duck after it has cured.
I made my needle out of a wooden skewer. Begin sewing the breast together, only penetrating and sewing the fat together all the way around the duck breasts.
And to think that the home economics classes I took in middle school would finally pay off.
Once sewn together, check for any parts of flesh that might be exposed, if there are any just mix a little bit of warm duck fat with ground black pepper and rub it onto those areas.
The Cure (Recipe adapted from Eric Finley, Chop, Butchery & Charcuterie)
1.5T Juniper Berries
1T Fresh Garlic
1T Whole Black Peppercorns
2ea Bay Leaves
1ea Sewn Duck Breast
Combine dry spices and pulse in a food processor.
In a bowl combine all ingredients, except duck and mix well.
Toss the duck in the cure, lay a handful of the cure onto a sheet of plastic wrap.
Place the duck on top followed by another handful of cure.
Wrap the duck and the cure tightly in the plastic to ensure that the breasts are completely covered in cure.
Label, date, and apply about 10# of weight on top of the duck breast, the weight will help it cure faster. Place in the fridge and cure for seven days.
Remove the duck from the plastic, reserving the cure, and check for firmness, it should be uniform.
If it is still soft in some spots, which mine was, then re-apply the cure, mine will take another three to four days.
Re-applying the cure to my duck breasts and wrapping and storing for 3-4 more days.
Once the duck has finished curing it should feel firm. For the one sample that I used meat glue on I did not apply any weight, and it was not entirely firm but it ended up more round than the one that was weighted, which turned out flat.
I brushed off the cure and hung both prosciutto’s in the larder. I wrapped one with cheesecloth and left the other unwrapped.
These will age anywhere from one month to three.
The duck prosciutto is finally finished and I couldn’t be happier, well unhappy with one and very happy with the other. Final results:
The meat glued and un-pressed duck breast was unsuccessful, not because of the meat glue but because the breast where so thick it took too long for it to lose moisture being encased in fat. In the future I think this one would work better if I cured it longer, it was not quite firm enough and I should have left it in the cure for another week.
The sewn duck breasts, that were also weighted, turned out very well. The meat was encased in a very flavorful fatty skin. There isn’t much more to say about it except, Wow! Next time I will look at using Muscovy duck breasts as they are almost three times the size.
Whichever way you want to call it, lonzo or lomo has a great background. Lonzo is from Italy and lomo is from Spain. There is even a version from Greece that uses red wine in the cure and is referred to as lountza. This is another great piece of charcuterie history! Lomo can be and mean many things; in Spanish it means loin, traditional lomo would be beef tenderloin, and lomo de credo translates to loin of pork. Most of the lomo that I have had has been the tenderloin of pork so that is where I will begin.
This piece of cured muscle is a great way to start curing at home, the cut is small and not terribly expensive. The spices that are used are very aromatic and distinct, you should be able to pick out every spice that you put into it. The curing time is relatively short as is the hang time compared to the curing time of a whole loin because of its size.
For my lomo I am using Carlton Farms, based out of Carlton, Oregon, because they are a local and reliable source for great pork.
~2.50# Cleaned Pork Tenderloin
.21oz pink salt
.07oz toasted pink peppercorns
.21oz toasted fennel seeds
.21oz toasted coriander
.84oz Kosher salt
.14oz sweet smoked paprika
2ea cloves chopped garlic
.07oz thyme leaves
.07oz cayenne pepper
.14oz Fennel Pollen
Combine all of the ingredients for the cure.
Dry the pork with some paper towels and roll them in the cure.
Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and sprinkle with 1/4 of the remaining cure, place pork on top and add 1/4 more of the cure.
Roll the plastic around the pork tightly and place the loins in the fridge for 4 days, some recipes have said 1-2 weeks but that is for a loin of pork which is twice as thick. I went with the same curing time as my bacon to ensure that it does not get over cured. Check the pork daily and flip it over on its other side, when done the tenderloin should feel firmer than in raw form.
After your curing time is up, unwrap the pork and rinse under cool water to remove excess cure, and pat try with paper towels. Wrap the tenderloin in cheesecloth and hang until it has lost 30% of its weight. I am estimating it to be close to three weeks, again I have a chart that I will record the weight of the product every week to track when it is done.
I have loved lardo since I was introduced to it a few summers ago. It is a solid white brick of pork fat that has been cured and aged for a month. After a recent trip to Italy, I had the opportunity to try lardo from its birthplace in Colonnata, Italy. After I finished the piece of lardo that I brought back with me, I knew I had to recreate this wonderful piece of cured fat. We had eight pigs raised for Black Butte Ranch this last summer and this pork fat came off of one of the bellies. I kept it wrapped in plastic and foil in the freezer until I was ready to use it, it is important to keep it wrapped in foil to prevent light from hitting the fat, as this will ruin and spoil it.
3# Pork Fat from the belly
1/2# Coarse Sea Salt
1oz Pink Curing Salt
8ea Rosemary Sprigs
Combine all dry ingredients (except the rosemary) and sprinkle a quarter of the dry mix onto a non-reactive pan.
Toss the pork fat with the remaining dry mix.
Remove the rosemary from the stem and put a quarter of it in the pan with the dry.
Re-toss the fat in the dry mix and place it in the pan with the dry mix and rosemary.
Put the remaining rosemary on top of the pork fat.
Cover the pan with plastic and then a sheet of foil to prevent light from getting to the fat.
Place another pan on top of the pork fat and add about 10 pounds of weight. You can do this by putting cans or full water bottles into the pan that is on top of the pork.
Refrigerate and let the fat cure for 10-12 days.
After the 10-12 days, the fat should feel firm.
Rinse the pork and pat dry; wrap with cheesecloth and hang in a cool, dark, and humid place for 18-24 days. Ideally you will be looking for a 60°F temperature with 60%-70% humidity.
Aging and drying the pork fat.
Once dried, remove the discolored and dried outer edges. Slice thin and enjoy with olive oil baguettes or your favorite bread.
This dish is a variation to the first pate that I posted, Duck Country Pate with Dates and Sage. This variation uses the pheasant legs, liver, and ground pork to add some fat. I only changed the recipe a little bit from the original to get this variation.