For the benefit of those unfamiliar with Charcutepalooza, it’s the brain-child of Mrs. Wheelbarrow and Yummy Mummy. The idea is a distributed group learning experience about the craft of curing meat. Each month a new challenge is posted. The challenge for January is duck proscuitto.
This should have been a simple task. Cover duck breasts with salt for a day then wash off the excess, season with pepper and hang for a week to dry. Just one problem – no duck. Maybe it’s not duck season or they all flew south but there weren’t any in the store.
Well then – chicken proscuitto it is.
The process starts with boning out two chickens and then salting and hanging the breasts. That left me with quite a bit of chicken. The bones will go in the stock pot for soup and the rest went into chili.
Cube up the chicken (or beef if you’re a traditionalist) and brown in a dutch oven. Then add the spices and enough liquid to half cover the meat.
The spices used in this chili included 3 or 4 dried chile anchos, a tablespoon each of chile pequins, cumin and oregano and six or eight garlic cloves. Dry-roast the cumin then grind it with the chiles and oregano. I use a coffee/spice grinder or a blender. As for the garlic, throw it in whole or smash it — doesn’t seem to make any difference.
Simmer over low heat until the cubes fall apart (about 4 hours). adding liquid as needed. Once cooked, the sauce can be thickened with a tablespoon or two of corn flour (masa harina) or toasted ground pumpkin seeds. Serve over rice or cornbread with cheese and sour cream.
Meanwhile, the proscuitto is downstairs drying and should be ready for its starring role in dinner early next week.