Let’s get straight to the point here and simply admit that curing meat might seem a bit daunting at first.
Let’s also be honest and concede that staring down the endless tunnel of a national lockdown is also pretty daunting. To say you haven’t got enough time on your hands to cure your own duck breasts would also be disingenuous.
So I implore you to venture down a shorter tunnel, through which you will come out to find a warm bowl of mushroom tagliatelle with duck prosciutto and white truffle waiting for you on the other side.
In an ideal world, these are the only sorts of tunnels I’d like to find myself scurrying down.
Shopping list (serves 4)
Duck breast x 1
Rock salt x 300g
Herbal tea leaves x 1 tbsp
Zest of 1 grapefruit
Brown sugar x 1 tbsp
Pickling spice x 1 tbsp
Dried thyme x 1 tbsp
Pink peppercorns x ½ tbsp
Dried wild or porcini mushrooms x 50g
Echallion shallots (very finely chopped) x 6
Garlic cloves (minced) x 4
Mixed wild mushrooms (roughly chopped) x 120g
single cream x 150ml
Cooked chestnuts (thinly sliced) x 90g
Fresh thyme x 1 small handful
Fresh sage x 1 small handful
Fresh parsley x 1 small handful
Chicken stock x 400ml
Wholewheat tagliatelle x
White truffle (grated or thinly sliced) to serve
White truffle oil to serve
To make your duck prosciutto, start by scoring the skin of your duck breast with a sharp knife. Mix the other ingredients together in bowl and then layer the bottom of a small Tupperware or dish. Place the breast skin side down, and then use the remainder of the curing mixture to coat the rest of the meat.
Cover and chill for 5 days.
When the time arrives, rinse the salt off your meat with cold water. Pat dry with kitchen paper and keep chilled until needed.
Now your duck has undergone its magical transformation, feel free to thinly slice it and enjoy as part of a charcuterie board, treating it just like you would parma ham or other cured meats.
Continue by placing your dried mushrooms in your 400ml of boiling stock, and heat on high for 20 minutes. Knock the heat down to a simmer and remove your mushrooms whilst keeping the liquid on the hob.
Finely dice these hydrated mushrooms and keep to one side.
In a large pan fry fry your chestnuts in a small glug of oil for 5 minutes over a high heat. Once crispy remove and set aside.
Take your duck and carve off around 15 very thin slices with a sharp knife. Place these into your hot pan for about 1 minute on each side until also crispy. You can then remove these and set them aside as well.
In the same pan, add your shallots and reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Add both your mushrooms and your garlic, and continue to cook on medium for 5 minutes with a good grinding of black pepper.
Since your duck will be very salty, I would personally avoiding adding any more salt at this point.
Add your boiling stock along with your thyme and sage. Reduce this liquid by at least a half, and then mix in your cream, before knocking down the heat to a simmer.
Put your pasta in a large pan of well-salted water, and boil for 8 minutes until just al dente. Remove your pasta and add it to your sauce with a tablespoon of the pasta water. Keep the heat on low and add your crispy pieces of duck prosciutto, before mixing well with your fresh parsley for 2 more minutes.
Serve with a few more slices of your duck, the crispy chestnuts and shavings of your white truffle. Complete the ensemble with lashings of white truffle oil.