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Jan 27/17

What the heck is duck ham? Find out here. Posted by: Aaron Stearns | 0 Comments

The art of curing and smoking meats is one of the oldest preservation methods known to man. Salt has the ability to extend the life of the product you pair it with, but its true gift is the flavor and texture it creates when curing meat. From the outside looking in, Hillcrest Artisan Meats is a simple butcher shop. When you meet Brandon Brown, both butcher and proprietor at H.A.M., you discover his talent extends far beyond butchering meat. He is part chemist, part chef, part locavore, and all carnivore. This week we watched as Brandon Brown of Hillcrest Artisan Meats (above) prepared items for his deli case and talked about duck ham.

Where did you learn to make duck ham? At the King Estate Winery in Eugene, Oregon.

Who showed you the process? I learned from Chef Michael Landsburg. He spent many years in Europe perfecting his charcuterie skills.

Without giving away any secrets, describe your process: We take duck breasts with a good layer of fat and add salt, thyme, garlic, and bay leaf. We put it all in a ziplock bag, let them cure in the refrigerator for 4 days. Pull them out, rinse them really well, then let them dry. Then we put them in the smoker at 130 degrees for 2 hours.

Where do you get your ducks from? We get them from two places. We bring in whole ducks from Falling Sky Farms in Marshall, Ark., then we get our breasts for the ham from Tennessee Farms near Nashville.

What do you like to make with your duck ham? We like to make a sandwich with house-made aioli, balsamic marinated onions, and arugula.

Duck ham can be served in many ways. Thinly sliced on a sandwich like Brandon serves, paired with some mustard, crackers and a nice cheese, or served with greens for a wonderful salad, like the one below.

2 heirloom tomatoes
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes
3 ears fresh corn
1 cup arugula
1 lb duck ham sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons each of chopped chives, tarragon, and parsley
1/2 cup cold goat cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice your heirloom tomatoes into 1/2-inch thick rounds. Then lay them out on a large platter and season both sides with salt and pepper. Cut your cherry tomatoes in half and place in a medium bowl and set aside. In a bowl combine olive oil, vinegar, a pinch of salt and pepper, and the herbs and whisk until combined. Pour a small amount of the dressing over the cherry tomatoes and let sit for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the kernels off the corn and place in a bowl with a small amount of the dressing. On four plates, place two slices each of heirloom tomatoes. Divide your cherry tomatoes among the four plates and place right on top of your sliced tomatoes. Lay four slices of duck on top of the tomatoes. Finish the salad with a few spoonfuls of corn and some crumbled goat cheese. If needed, dress the salad with the reserved dressing.

A naturalized Southerner, Chef Matthew Bell is happy to call North Little Rock, Ark., home. Since moving to the South 8 years ago, Bell has fallen in love with the heritage of southern food. After serving upscale southern in fine-dining for the last 5 years, Bell is looking forward to opening his first establishment, South on Main, where he will serve refined southern food in a casual setting.



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