Cured Foods


Duck Prosciutto

  • 2 cups kosher salt
  • 1 whole boneless duck breast (about 1 lb)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Cheesecloth

Put 1 cup of the salt in a glass baking pan or dish that will hold the duck breast without allowing it to touch the sides. Nestle the duck breast, skin side up, on top of the salt. Pour enough additional salt over the duck breast to cover it completely. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and re­frigerate the breast for 24 hours.

Rinse the breast, and pat dry with paper towels. The flesh should feel dense, and its color will have deepened. Dust with pepper on both sides.

Wrap the breast in cheesecloth and tie with string. Hang it for about 7 days in a cool, humid place. (About 50° to 60°F is optimal.) The flesh should be stiff but not hard throughout; the color will be a deep, rich red. Still squishy in the center? Hang it for a day or two longer.

Remove the cheesecloth, wrap the duck in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you’re ready to eat. Makes 1 cured whole duck breast

Fennel Cured Salmon

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 salmon fillet (2 to 3 lb, in one piece, skin on pinbones removed
  • 1/4 cup Pernod
  • 1 fennel bulb, with stalks and leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup fennel seeds, toasted
  • 2 Tbsp white pepper-corns, toasted and cracked

Combine the sugars and salt and sprinkle half of the mix over the bottom of a glass baking dish just large enough to hold the salmon. Pan size is very important, because the fish will release a lot of liquid, forming in effect a highly seasoned brine in which it will cure; you want the brine to cover as much of the fish as possible. Place the salmon on the salt mixture. Sprinkle both sides of the fish with the Pernod, and then cover with the remaining salt mixture. Layer the sliced fennel on top, followed by the ­fennel seeds and white peppercorns. Cover everything with plastic wrap.

Place a pan on top of the salmon and weigh it down: A few canned goods should do the trick. Refrigerate for 48 hours, redistributing the cure ingredients as necessary over the salmon once, about midway through the curing. The salmon should be firm to the touch at the thickest part when fully cured. If it still feels raw and squishy, cover it and leave it in the cure for 24 hours more.

When the salmon is fully cured, discard the fennel seeds and spices. Rinse the fish well under cool water, and pat it dry. To store the salmon, wrap it in parchment paper and refrigerate it. The salmon will keep for around 3 weeks in the fridge. Rewrap it in fresh paper if the paper becomes too wet. Makes 2 to 3 pounds of salmon

  • NOTE: The fennel and pernod can be replaced with a bunch of fresh dill; the zest and juice of two lemons and oranges; an even coating of cracked pepper and ground coriander; or ½ cup fresh grated horseradish.

Easy Home Made Gravlax

  • One 2 pound salmon fillet, skin off
  • 1/4 sup of salt, preferably kosher
  • 1/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1-2 bunches of fresh dill, you can't really use too much
  • 2 tsps of freshly cracked black pepper

Simply rub the salmon fillet all over with the salt and sugar, and sprinkle with the pepper.

Place half of the dill in glass or or other non reactive container, big enough to hold the salmon flat (it can be cut into pieces to fit as necessary), lay the salmon on the dill, and cover with the other half of the dill. Cover with plastic wrap, and place something heavy on the top, to compress the salmon.

Let it sit in the fridge for 2 days, draining the water that collects off once. Check to see if the salmon is finished after 2 days. The texture will change, and become denser, and it will look like smoked salmon when finished. If it is not all the way through cured, give it one more day of curing.

That's it. Wash off the salt and sugar, and slice as thinly as possible, with a very sharp knife.

Another Gravlax Recipe

  • 2 pounds center-cut salmon fillet, skin on and pin-bones removed
  • 1/3 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small bunch fresh dill sprigs
  • 2 Tablespoons Bourbon (whatever you like to drink)

Cut the salmon fillet in half crosswise so you have two pieces about the same length and width. Place the fillets skin side down on a large sheet of plastic wrap.

In a small bowl mix together the salt, sugar, and black pepper. Sprinkle half the mixture over each fillet and rub it in with your fingers. Drizzle one tablespoon of bourbon over each fillet. Spread the dill sprigs over one fillet and lay the other fillet, flesh side down, on top of the dill-covered fillet.
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Tightly wrap the fillets in the plastic wrap and place inside a heavy duty plastic bag. Place the salmon in a baking dish, top with another baking dish or plate and weight the top with cans or other heavy objects to compress the fish; refrigerate.
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Twice a day, turn the salmon package over, replacing the weights. (A good deal of liquid will accumulate as the salmon cures). The gravlax is done when the flesh is opaque, about 3-4 days.
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