Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Magret de Canard Seche

It is that time of the year again!  All the markets are having sales on duck. I stock up on confit de canard, clarified duck fat, duck legs and thighs and one of my very favorite things, magret de canard. Those are big duck breasts. The ducks raised here are barbary ducks, the size of geese, so each duck has two nice sized magrets. The meat is red with a layer of fat. I love to barbecue them on the grill, but in the winter, they can be cooked in a hot skillet. You have to score the fat side. I've extolled the virtues of duck fat many times on this blog. It is not like chicken fat, Ducks and geese are aquatic and the fat is actually healthy, an omega 3 fat. It is traditionally used in place of other fats in cooking here and has been found to be part of the "French Paradox".  It acts like fish oil and has been cited as part of the reason this part of France has one of the lowest rates of heart disease in the world.
A very traditional way of preserving magret is dry curing it. The result is very much like dry cured ham...In fact, this technique is a part of Spanish Seraphic Jewish cuisine. They developed it because it is so much like the traditional Jambons de Bayonne or Serrano. 
So, I made one 3 weeks ago and started 2 more today. It's very simple as the video I posted above demonstrates. I trim the breast neatly, then cover it with gros sel...I think the equivalent in the USA is Kosher salt. I have reused the salt a few times. I put it in a non reactive dish and cover it with plastic wrap and let it sit for 24 hours in the fridge. Then take it out, wipe off the salt and grind fresh black pepper over the duck breast and push it into the surface. Be liberal with the pepper. I carefully wrap the breast in a clean towel. I have a plastic box with air vents which I put the towel wrapped breast in to keep it dry, then put it in the fridge and let it sit for at least 2 weeks while it dries. The one I unwrapped today was in the fridge for 3 weeks and it was perfect. It really is like prosciutto when you slice it thin. You could also use thyme and paprika when you put the pepper on as well, but I like to keep it simple.
One more winter thing I like. I haven't had a lot of time to write lately because of my wife's ongoing eye problem...tomorrow I am taking here to Bordeaux on the train to see a specialist who is going to do a cell transplant if it is possible. We have to get on the train from our little station in Condat-le Lardin and then go to the big city. I'd rather take the train to Bordeaux than drive, just because of the logistics and parking and the train is actually faster than the autoroute It's a simple 15 minute bus trip to the clinic from the station. Maybe the doctor will have good news for us. She is almost totally blind in one eye and it could very well be reversible.
Here's a picture of my magret I unwrapped today!

1 comment:

Ol'Buzzard said...

I use to hunt wild ducks many decades ago - haven't had duck since.
the Ol'Buzzard