Recipe: Duck Salami
Charcutepalooza is almost over. And with the second to last challenge we’ve come full circle – back to curing. I choose the apprentice challenge this time, curing Salami. It’s something I’ve wanted to try for a long time.
My mother’s mother and her step-father were both great cooks. My grandmother, who was born in 1910, never saw a reason to pay for something she could make or grow at home and so largely missed out on the food that was normal in my childhood years – Wonder bread, Tang, Hamburger Helper, and frozen peas. My grandparents had a large garden, fished in Puget Sound, ate seasonally, and cooked with butter, olive oil, and lard. Grandma Blanche lived to be 87, Grandpa Con, 91.
My step-grandfather was born in Canada, but he identified himself as Greek; his parents and many of his father’s siblings emigrated from Greece in the early part of the last century and became a family of produce men. Grandpa Con reluctantly shopped at an Italian deli for two reasons – they stocked Greek olive oil, and the shop owner cured his own meat.
My grandmother thought the salami was too strong for a child – she wouldn’t let me have any till I was 9 years old. But Grandpa Con started giving it to me when I was 4; it was our secret – sliced from his private stash in the basement. “Your Grandma doesn’t need to know,” he’d say, every time he opened up the so called “bait fridge.”
So, I’ve always known salami was an indulgence food, and best enjoyed with someone else. And it’s something that’s been out of reach for me, since animal welfare issues began to shape my diet.
But what if I could make my own? The salami recipe was one the first I read in Charcuterie. So why duck? Well, for K.M. and I, this year of meat has been a year of duck; while the other Charcutepalozians out there have eaten more pork than ever this year –we’ve eaten an extraordinary amount of duck, sometimes, as in the case of this salami, enhanced by pork.
While my research didn’t turn up much about the origins of duck salami, I did quickly discover that goose salami (sometimes made with pork, sometimes without) is a specialty of the Lombardy region of Italy. It’s called salame d’oca. Now I have another place on my fantasy travel list. And a good reason to order two geese for Christmas.
Like duck prosciutto, turkey pastrami, hot dogs and smoked salmon, I knew this challenge would be a keeper, so following Wrightfood’s incredibly clear and helpful instructions, I set up a curing chamber in my own “bait fridge.”
I bought curing salt. I don’t plan to eat salami everyday – and to be honest, I suspect that all diet soda I drank in my teens and twenties is probably a much more potent carcinogen than the nitrate that assures me I won’t give my family and friends botulism.
I crossed my fingers and adapted the Charcuterie recipe. I ground, I mixed, I stuffed, I smoked (half the batch), and I waited nearly 5 weeks, for my sample sausage to lose 30% of its weight.
Just the smell in the curing chamber was amazing. Every time I checked up on the salami I was a kid hiding in the basement with my grandfather again – sharing a secret.
K.M. likes the smoked salami better – I like the straight cure; it seems more authentic to me. But we both agree it is at its best savored with a bit of bread, or a great cracker and some cheese. It’s too primal to be hidden in a recipe.