The Food and Wine Hedonist

leave your inhibitions at the door

Homemade Duck Prosciutto

My nephew recently graduated from college and I got him a new chef’s knife.   He’s always enjoyed cooking and was excited to have a high quality knife. For those interested, it’s a MAC Professional  which was the best knife I’ve ever used before I bought Gwyneth Paltrow’s.   Almost immediately he sent me a picture of how thin he was able to slice the duck prosciutto he just made.

Whoa, whoa, whoa…  homemade duck prosciutto?

I didn’t know that was possible to make at home.   He sent me Rebecca Marsters’ recipe and it not only was possible, but was super easy.    It took me a while to get around to it (and just as long to write this post about it), but I did it.

I always that thought that prosciutto was strictly the thinly sliced imported Italian ham you see at good delis.  But, as the recipe points out, the word is derived from “prosciugare,” which means to dry thoroughly.  So while that can technically mean any meat we mainly see the pork variety because… you know… PORK ROCKS.

I would’ve totally done the pork variety but this was my first attempt at this.  Plus, I don’t have a fridge big enough to hang a whole pig leg.   Yet.   But duck breast is relatively cheap and manageable. And I don’t have to wait months and months for it to dry out – just a couple weeks.


Here’s how to do it

First, score the skin and fat so that the salt and spices can get into the meat.    Make sure to get the exact weight of the duck breasts at this point.  It’s important to track how much moisture was lost in order to determine if it’s sufficiently dried.

DP raw


The recipe calls for juniper berries, fennel seed, peppercorns, bay leaves, and coriander seeds.  I used the same blend of spices as the recipe, but feel free to use different ones.

DP spices

Lightly toast them in a pan, grind them all together,  and then mix with 4 cups of kosher salt and 2 cups of sugar.

DP spices ground


Pour enough of the cure to cover the bottom of a container, add the breasts and then cover with the rest of it.   Seal the container and place in the fridge.

dp in salt


Marsters mentioned that the usual cure time is 24 hours, but she waited four days because her breasts were big (the duck breasts, not her sweater meat although they could very well be oversized as well).  Seeing that the whole point of prosciutto is to dry it out to kill any microbes, I figured I better go that long as well.

After four days, the breasts will have started to shrivel a little and will be dark colored –

dp cured


Rinse off the excess salt, dry, and wrap them individually in cheesecloth –

DP wrap


And then hang in the fridge for two weeks –

DP drying


When completed, weigh the breasts to make sure enough moisture was lost.  She mentions the industry standard is 30%, and hers only lost 18%.   Mine lost 23%, so I figured that was safe.

Now all that’s needed is to slice it as thinly as possible and enjoy!

DP sliced


I still can’t believe it was that simple.   I have to admit that I was a little concerned about the whole food safety part of it – “sketchy” was how my son described it.   After all, it is really still raw.   But hey I’m still standing!

The meat itself was firm and the duck flavors came shining through.  But the best part was the buttery layer of fat that decadently melts in your mouth.   My family doesn’t really like duck, but they all thought this was delicious.

I can’t wait to make another batch.    Next time I may experiment with other spices like red pepper or star anise.

Or heck, I may just do a whole pig’s leg.


Have you ever made your own prosciutto or cured meat?


About thefoodandwinehedonist

I don't know everything about the world of food and wine, but I'm not going to let a small detail like that stop me from blogging about it.

24 comments on “Homemade Duck Prosciutto

  1. productionslevin
    January 6, 2015

    Thanks for this wonderful post. I did not know that you could make prosciutto out of duck

  2. Reluctant Food Blogger
    January 6, 2015

    Homemade charcuterie for the win! I’ve made lox before (process is somewhat similar) and currently I’m making headcheese, but I haven’t tried proscuitto…

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 6, 2015

      I’ve wanted to try making headcheese and can get a whole pig’s head for $15 at my butcher. But my wife said NO WAY to bringing one home.

  3. Denise
    January 6, 2015

    Looks amazing! I don’t have a good enough knife set to try this – it looks so impressive that you’ve got such thin slices and I can just imagine the way it melts in your mouth.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 6, 2015

      Thanks! Definitely get a good knife, and it doesn’t need to be a set. You’d be amazed what you can do with just one good one.

      I have a half-written post about knives somewhere and I may have to unearth it.

  4. kitchenkonfidential
    January 6, 2015

    GET IN MY BELLY! this is awesome 🙂

  5. talkavino
    January 6, 2015

    Salivating… I never made it, but contemplating. Here also another recipe from the blog I follow – looks similar to yours, but a bit different:

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 6, 2015

      You should definitely try it… That link has some beautiful pictures. I thought I was following that blog, but it looks like it fell off my subscription list. The technique is pretty much the same. The difference is when the aromatics were used. My recipe uses them with the salt, not after. I would think that the flavors would get into the meat easier then when hanging, but it may not make that big a difference.

      Thanks, Anatoli!

  6. A Famished Foodie
    January 6, 2015

    Yum! There’s a place in Philly that makes duck prosciutto that I’ve been dying to try. I’ll add your homemade prosciutto to my list of things that make Michigan an okay state (which, so far, is only one item long).

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 6, 2015

      You gotta make it yourself!!

      There aren’t a lot that makes Michigan OK besides
      1 – my presence
      2 – some of the best craft brewers in the country
      3 – Ann Arbor and Traverse City
      4 – my presence

  7. elizabeth
    January 6, 2015

    In Think Like a Chef Tom Colicchio has a recipe for duck ham in which you just do the cure and it’s delicious (I like my duck rare after all) but I may do the actual drying out process this winter.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 6, 2015

      That’s all that’s needed for the ham? Will have to check that out. Maybe I get four breasts next time and make both…

  8. dwdirwin
    January 6, 2015

    Definitely need to show this to the hubby. We have a lot of duck taking up space in our freezer.

  9. toddfisk
    January 7, 2015

    Wow! That looks like a blast! I have experimented a great deal with all manner of cold smoking, aging, curing, with varying results. Would like to try prosciutto with ptarmigan, or lynx.

    • thefoodandwinehedonist
      January 7, 2015

      Lynx?!? Not sure id want to try it, buy where is that available?

      • toddfisk
        January 7, 2015

        In the great white north, my family and I occaisonally shoot or trap one if it is threatening our livestock. I too was skeptical of eating one, but was compelled to try it as we prefer to make use of any animal we kill. I had been told it was delicious, and i was pleased to find it quite tasty!

        • thefoodandwinehedonist
          January 7, 2015

          Ahh, that makes sense. Definitely agree with making use of animal where possible

  10. Vanessa-Jane Chapman
    January 7, 2015

    Oh wow! I love prosciutto and I love duck, so I know I would love this! I’ve never cured meat myself, never thought of doing it, but I am now! Yep, I’m gonna try this, thank you for sharing!

  11. Danika Maia
    January 7, 2015

    Wow that’s incredible my boyfriend would love this!

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This entry was posted on January 6, 2015 by in Ann Arbor, Cooking and tagged , , , , .
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