Duck Prosciutto

My two greatest culinary passions are a) methods of preserving food- the simpler and more flavourful the better – and b) duck! The former being a tether to the distant past when salting and fermenting meant survival for crafty cooks and the latter being the tastiest damn animal know to man.

Now I know I’ve already done a ton of duck recipes, including the great-granddaddy of all preserved duck dishes: confit du canard, but bear with me one more time ‘cause this one’s a keeper. It’s a technique for preserving breasts that results in a semi-cured, dense and beautifully salty-sweet taste reminiscent of prosciutto de parma.  It’s dead-easy and a great entry-level way to get into more serious charcuterie. (more…)

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Pickled Red Cabbage

Pickled Red Cabbage 5Walking around the local Megalomart produce section in the depths of a rainy West coast winter is a real lesson in our dependency on other places for our food. Yeah, I’d love to eat strawberries, tomatoes and mangos all year long, but the costs (financially and environmentally) of supporting the industrial mega-greenhouses of Mexico, Argentina and China outweigh my base cravings.

So I obsessively scan the “Product Of…” signs, hoping to hit something Canadian, or better yet, from our own backyard. Drives my wife freakin crazy!

These local eats are often hardier root veggies, or tough fibrous greens that look a bit scrubby next to piles of supermodel red peppers and dragonfruits. The kind of tubers, berries and brassica that need a little bit more processing to be as tender and sexy as the subtropical stuff. (more…)

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Salt-Cured Salmon With Aquavit and Dill

Gravlax 1Using salt to draw out the moisture in fish is a technique of preservation that almost every civilisation in human history has employed. The Mesopotamians did it, and passed their techniques on to the ancient Greeks and Romans (who gave us our word cure, from the Latin curare, meaning “to take care of”). First Nations people along both coasts have used salting as their primary mode of preservation along with smoking and sun-drying. It’s the same story with the Portuguese, Irish, Scots and especially the Scandinavians throughout most of their respective histories. (more…)

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