Bresaola is cured, air dried beef, which is usually served in wafer thin slices, and served with olive oil and lemon juice.
It’s normally made using an “eye of round” cut – a muscle in the rear leg of a cow. It’s low in fat, so not great for roasting, but good for curing and hanging. This is the first time I’ve made it, and not wanting to spend lots of cash on expensive meat – I went to the supermarket butcher counter.
Me: “Hello, could you do me an eye of round please?”
Supermarket butcher: “Never heard of it mate”
That’s what you get when you go to a supermarket I guess, so I bought a small piece of silverside instead – a good substitution.
I trimmed it down and weighed it, then scaled all the cure ingredients. I’m using the recipe from Ruhlman’s Charcuterie book.
It’s only a small piece – 1/3rd the weight in the recipe, and it calls for very accurate measurements, so I used the scales I got from the local head shop as they’re accurate to 0.1g – I hope my neighbours don’t get the wrong impression!
I worked out the cure ingredients for my 454g piece of meat:
- 7.5g Portuguese sea salt
- 9g sugar
- 1.2g Curing salt #2
- 1.5g ground black pepper
- 1.8g fresh rosemary needles
- 1.8g fresh thyme leaves
- 2 fresh juniper berries
I blitzed it up in my coffee / herb grinder. It went quite moist due to the herbs, so I had to make sure I got it all out, didn’t want to lose any after measuring everything down to .1g
I use a vac bag to cure the meat in as it keeps the cure on the meat better, but I’ve used zip-top food bags for curing and they work fine too.
Rubbed half of the cure mixture into the meat when it was in the bag – didn’t want to lose any.
It spends a week in the fridge, then it’s rinsed off and the remaining cure is rubbed in. Then it’s back to the fridge for another week.
Here it is after a week in the cure
And here it is after 2 weeks curing, having been rinsed and dried off. Smells fantastic at this stage.
Ruhlman says tie it up with string, but I thought I’d use this elasticated netting I bought instead as it’s easier. Next time I’ll try to get some ox bung or collagen casings.
With it being elasticated it was easy to stuff into the netting. I tied it up and weighed it.
At this time of year (January), my understairs cupboard holds the perfect temperature for drying meat, and it has an air brick for a bit of airflow, so I rigged up a plastic bucket to hang it in, with a bowl of salty mush to help regulate the humidity. Stuck my min / max recording thermohygrometer in there too.
It hangs until it’s lost between 30-40% weight. I took it out to check it every few days, just to make sure there was nothing untoward happening, and to weigh it.
It only took 16 days to lose 37% in weight. I guess the humidity was too low, as that seems far too quick.
I sliced it straight through the middle to have a look:
As you can see, the outside edge of the bresaola dried much quicker than the inside, which is a bit of a shame.
Overall – it’s not too bad for a first attempt without a proper drying chamber setup, but I was a bit disappointed with the unevenness of the drying. I think that stuffing it in a beef bung would really help smooth the drying out, so I’ll do that next time and compare the results.
Taste wise, it’s really good – all herby and beefy, and it’s great drizzled in olive oil and a bit of lemon juice.
I wasn’t totally happy with the way this turned out, so I vac packed it again, and put it back in the fridge for 2-3 weeks to see if it would equalise the moisture and soften the case hardening. I pulled it out again last night, and it seems to have helped a fair bit. The edges have softened up somewhat, and the overall mouthfeel is much better:
I also did a taste test against some bresaola I bought Beedham & sons as a benchmark. His is on a completely different level, and I can’t say I’m surprised – he’s been curing meat for about 30 years 🙂