The technique of curing food evolved from a pre refrigeration era need to perserve food in a safe, flavorful way. The salt draws out moisture, transforming the texture and color of the food. This dish made with Duck breast, takes a week to make, but once you have done a short preparation, the duck will take care of itself. The salad, however, can be made minutes and can be used to all kinds of food.
Salt Cured Duck breast and Jerusalem Artichokes Salad
8 servings as an appetizer
2 1-1b. boneless duck breasts with skin
2 cups kosher salt
1½ cup packed dark brown sugar
10 cracked juniper berries
15 cracked cloves
4-5 bay leaves
1 tsp. coarsely cracked black peppercorns
To make duck, cut the skin with parallel slits without cutting into meat. Mix remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Arrange 2 sheets of plastic wrap side by side on a work surface. Spread 1 scant cup salt mixture (do not pack) in center of each sheet, spreading mixture to match the size of the duck breasts. Top each with 1 duck breast, skin side down. Spread remaining salt mixture over meat, dividing equally. Bring plastic wrap up and over each duck breast, wrapping tightly. Place on a small rimmed plate, skin side down and refrigerate for 7 days to cure.
To serve, unwrap duck breasts. Scrape off salt mixture, (do not rinse). Using a long, sharp knife, thinly slice meat. Arrange on 4 plates or a large platter. Serve with fresh figs, chutney or a salad.
Salad with raw marinated Jerusalem Artichokes and Dried Cranberries
8 salad servings
1 lb. Jerusalem Artichokes*
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp. rapeseed oil
4 finely chopped small shallots
1 small head Bibb salad
2 oz. dried cranberries
salt and freshly ground pepper
To make salad, scrub Jerusalem Artichokes and slice them on a mandolin. Place slices in a bowl. Whisk a dressing of vinegar, oil and ½ tsp. salt and pour over the Jerusalem Artichokes. Let stand 30 minutes.
To serve, place salad and parsley on 4 plates and arrange Jerusalem Artichokes on top of salad. Sprinkle chopped shallots and cranberries over.
Jerusalem artichokes are also known as sunchokes.