Of cured duck, vineyards and haunted mansions…
by My French Heaven
The great thing (and the worst thing?) about growing up in St Emilion is that everyone knew everyone. As kids we were allowed to go play from vineyard to vineyard when school was out. Almost every château was owned by family or friends of the family and there was nowhere for us to really get lost. Parents could keep an eye on us from afar and if they couldn’t, the neighbors would take over. My cousin Bruno and I were raised as brothers. On weekends, my aunt Nicole would send us on the most amazing scavenger hunts she had prepared for us. We had our swiss army knives and were given clues and maps that would usually lead us back home by the end of the day. My grand mother would give us a lunch bag with baguette, cheese, juice and some kind of cured meat. The meat would be ham or duck. To this day, the taste and texture of cured duck triggers memories of our adventures in the vineyard. We never told our parents, but one of our favorite places to stop and hide for lunch was the old house in the picture here. At the time, the front door and bottom windows had not yet been sealed up. We thought the house was haunted of course and that made our play dates all the more exciting… Here is the proper recipe for cured duck breast. You can serve it thinly sliced at the apéritif or like here on bread, as antipasti. It has a very delicate taste and an amazing silky texture you will love!
- Get a thick fresh duck breast (with the fat) from a trusted butcher. Ours are almost two inches thick because they come from ducks that were fed to produce foie gras. The South West of France is were the best foie gras comes from.
- Lay the breast on a layer of rock salt in a deep dish or tupperware. Then pour an other thick layer of salt on top.
- Leave the breast in the salt in the fridge for 24 hours.
- After 24 hours, take the breast out of the salt and remove all the salt left on the meat with a dry cloth.
- Rub black pepper all over the meat and put it in a dry cloth with lots of fresh rosemary, thyme and bay leaves.
- Leave your little package in the fridge for 3 to 4 weeks.
- When you take it out, make sure you rub off as much of the pepper as possible.