7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon

HOME CURED MEATS in 7/8 DAYS : dry-curing & wet-curing (or brining) & “biltonging” too. Salt, sugar, water, vinegar, herbs, spices and other stuff (depending on the chosen method(s) !!!

At first, the idea is quite SCARY & DAUNTING … but not because it’s difficult but only because you start imagining incredibly terrible things like ROTTING and SPOILAGE and FOOD POISONING !

“Get a grip.”

“Let’s get over it together.”

“Let’s get over this and do it together . . .”

There are many different methods out there : the soaking or wet-curing or brining method; the dry-curing & hanging method; the South-African “biltong” method using a soaking and then drying method (usually used for thinner-cut jerky style meats, but more tender).

And then there are the ingredients ; coarse sea salt (to safely preserve the meat and draw the water out), sugar (to diminish the “bite” of the salt), vinegar (to disinfect and break down the proteins) and baking soda (for tenderizing) and the herbs & spices (for final flavorings) and then there’s this thing called ‘curing salt’ or ‘prague powder’ or ‘instacure’ for food safety reasons.

There are two types of this curing salt and they’re usually pink-colored so you don’t mistake them for regular salt. Our ancestors used saltpeter but nobody does that anymore today. Prague Powder or Instacure or Curing Salt Number 1 is 94% regular table salt and 6% sodium nitrite, used for short-duration curing periods and cured meats that will be consumed in the coming days or weeks and then there’s number 2 with 90% salt and 6% sodium nitrite and 4% sodium nitrate for longer curing periods up to many months. The reason to use it is to prevent “botulism” and hinder the development of certain more dangerous bacteria. To be honest, I feel reassured using a small amount every time even though they say nitrites and nitrates aren’t good for you. Most vegetables have low concentrations of nitrates that turn into nitrites inside your body, which is why I used celery seed here too, which is quite rich in nitrate/nitrite (and I’ve been thinking of trying to replace the curing salt with a celery seed or powder or juice mix, but that will be for later or next time).

Many people who do home-curing usually only use salt, some add sugar, some add herbs and spices too. The South-African “biltong” method uses vinegar and baking soda and then simply hangs up the thinner slivers of meat to dry. Dry-curing in the fridge lasts at least 2-3 weeks or longer, wet-curing is shorter. Temperature and humidity also play an important role and using the refrigerator at 5°C will be slower and longer than a cellar at 10-15°C.

What I’ve done here with these 2 very different types of meats such as the DUCK BREAST and the PORK FILET MIGNON is to combine different methods to speed up the curing process by guaranteeing that the meat has been properly penetrated by the ingredients used, so that the CURING will be FASTER but especially SAFE.

Here’s a short summary of what I did : I poked holes in the meat, then soaked the meat in a brine of vinegar, salt, sugar, curing salt and baking soda for 60-90 minutes, then I packed the pork and duck in the dry-cure made of salt, sugar, curing salt and baking soda for 32 hours on my balcony which was between 5-10°C (24 hours would have been enough for the less fatty pork) and I turned the meats over every 10-12 hours, then I rinsed everything off, brushed it with a mixture of smoked paprika, liquid smoke and vinegar and then coated each in their spices and or herbs, I wrapped them up tightly in cheesecloth and tied them up and hung them up in my cellar which was at 10-14°C and 60-65% humidity for 7 days (6 days would have been better for the pork, 8 days for the duck), I weighed everything everyday and noticed that the weight was slowly decreasing (20% total for the duck because it had a thick layer of fat and 28% for the pork filet mignon, but 25% for both is best), then I took everything down and unwrapped the cured meats, sliced some very thinly and wrapped up the rest and stored it in the refrigerator and we had some slices everyday.

Now if everything was cured in the refrigerator at 5°C it would have taken at least 3 weeks of hanging time (or laying down flat on a rack). I could have hung them up on the cold and windy balcony but the humidity level was too high. The pre-soaking in a vinegar brine reassured me as did the small addition of curing salt in the brine and the dry-cure (I was tempted to double the amount of curing salt but I didn’t). Both the duck and pork are salty which means they’ll last longer and that you have to slice them thinly (which is perfect for me). Both were very tasty and not too dry, the duck was fattier (because of the thick layer of fat) so that layer has to be well-scored so the salt can penetrate it better … Voilà !

*Give it a try. The holiday season will soon be here so it’s a great appetizer idea. We’ve been eating some every day for the past week and we’re alive & well so you can trust my technique and recipe.

And by the way, both were DEEEEE-LICIOUS . . . :)

7-days home-cured & dried duck breast & pork filet mignon


320 grams & 300 grams


meats :

  • 400 grams duck breast (with skin & fat layer on)
  • 400 grams pork filet mignon (smaller ends slightly trimmed)

dry-cure mix for each piece of meat :

  • 400 grams (2 cups) semi-coarse sea salt
  • 100 grams (1/2 cup) golden cane sugar
  • optional : 6 grams (1 tsp) curing salt (pink-colored prague powder #1 with 6% sodium nitrite)
  • 6 grams (1 tsp) baking soda

wet-cure mix  (or brine) for each piece of meat :

  • 480 ml (2 cups) - 720 ml (3 cups) white vinegar (or enough to cover meat)
  • 25 grams (2 tbsp) - 37 grams (3 tbsp) coarse sea salt
  • 6 grams (½ tbsp) - 9 grams (¾ tbsp) golden cane sugar
  • optional : 3 grams (½ tsp) - 4,5 grams (¾ tsp) curing salt
  • 1,5 grams (¼ tsp) - 2,25 grams (¼+1/8 tsp) baking soda

for brushing/basting each piece of meat (after 24-36 hours of salt-curing) :

  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika 
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (or add an extra ¼ tsp smoked paprika + 1 tsp white vinegar)

spices & herbs coatings :

for pork filet mignon (about 3¼ tbsp or 10 grams) :

  • 2 tbsp dried ‘herbes de provence’ mix (oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
  • 1½ tsp coarsely-ground fennel seeds
  • 1½ tsp coarsely-ground mixed peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp celery seed

for duck breast (about 3¼ tbsp or 12 grams) :

  • 1½ tbsp coarsely ground allspice
  • 1½ tbsp coarsely ground mixed peppercorns (white, green, black, pink)
  • ¼ tsp celery seeds


  • prepare the dry-cure mix for each piece of meat that will be cured (if smaller or larger pieces of meat are used, increase or decrease accordingly, on average the dry-cure mix should weigh at least 30% more than your meat or simply make more and store the extra unused dry-cure)
  • rinse the meat under cold water, use thin skewers to poke holes all around and through the pieces of meat (for the duck breast, score the skin and fat side with a sharp knife at least 5 mm deep in a diagonal pattern for better penetration)  
  • place each piece of meat in the containers that you will use for the wet-cure and pour enough water on top to cover the pieces completely, then empty out by measuring the amount of water that was needed to calculate the amount of wet-cure vinegar mix needed
  • prepare the amount of wet-cure vinegar mix needed and completely cover and let soak the pieces of meat in the wet-cure mix for 45-60 minutes (for thinner flatter pieces such as the duck breast) or 75-90 minutes (for thicker cylindrical pieces like the pork filet mignon)
  • remove the pork and/or duck from the wet-cure mix and let excess liquid drain off and place in separates dishes with about 1 cm of dry-cure mix on the bottom, then the meat on top and then cover completely with the rest of the dry-cure mix, cover with a kitchen towel and let sit for 24-32 hours (6 hours for each 100 grams of meat for a less salty result and 8 hours for each 100 grams for a saltier result) in the bottom of the refrigerator or ideally in a cold space (between 5°C-10°C) and turn over the pieces of meat once or twice during that time period (every 10-12 hours)
  • remove the meat pieces from the salt, rinse off well, pat dry and brush with a mixture of vinegar, smoked paprika and liquid smoke and then coat well with the herbs and spices mixture, pressing it well into the meat on all sides
  • use a cheese-cloth or a very thin kitchen towel to tightly wrap each piece of meat and tie up with butcher’s twine in order to hang and weigh and write down the exact weight of each wrapped piece of meat
  • hang up the meat in a cold well-aired space (temperature between 10°C-15°C) and humidity level between 60%-65% if possible) for 5-6 days (for less fatty meat like the pork filet mignon) and up to 7-8 days (for fattier meat like the duck breast) until the meat is drier and the weight has decreased by approximately 25% (you can weigh & track the progress every day if you like)

note : if you don't have a balcony or a cellar and you use the fridge, curing & drying will last 3 weeks

  • unwrap the cured meats, serve sliced thinly (saltier meat will have to be sliced more thinly than less salty meat) and wrap up tightly in cling film or vacuum seal the pieces and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month (or maybe a bit longer but there won't be any left !) ...