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+ servings

Bresaola

Quality of meat is vital here. Use only the best meat you can find, as it is the star here and nothing can hide crappy, factory-farmed meat. Grass-fed beef or bison is best, and moose or elk are also ideal. Mutton would work, as would a length of venison backstrap at least 18 inches long. If you are using pork, see my recipe for lonzino instead. Remember the thicker the meat, the longer the cure -- and the harder to keep that humidity even. If you are just starting out with charcuterie, go for an eye round or loin piece no wider than 2 inches.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time0 mins
Curing Time30 d
Course: Cured Meat
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: bison, charcuterie, venison
Servings: 12 people
Author: Hank Shaw

Ingredients

  • A 4-pound piece of eye round or loin trimmed of fat and sinew
  • 34 grams of kosher salt, about 2 tablespoons
  • 40 grams of sugar, about 3 tablespoons
  • 5 grams of Instacure No. 2, about a heaping teaspoon
  • 10 grams of maple sugar, about tablespoon (optional)
  • 15 grams of ground juniper, about 2 tablespoons
  • 3 grams of dried marjoram, about 1 tablespoon
  • 5 grams of dried sage, about 2 tablespoons
  • 25 grams of ground black pepper, about 2 tablespoons

Instructions

  • Make sure your meat has most of the fat and all of the sinew removed. Bresaola is supposed to be lean. Trim the ends to make a nice cylinder.
  • Mix all the spices together and massage them into the meat so it is well coated. Save any excess spices.
  • Put the meat and the excess spices into a plastic or other non-reactive container and put in the refrigerator. Cure this for 12 days, turning the meat over once a day. Pour off any liquid that accumulates, and redistribute the spices as needed. If the meat is 2 inches wide or less, cure for only 6 to 10 days. The meat is ready when it feels firm.
  • Rinse off the spices under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. It's OK if some spices stay stuck to the meat. You just don't want them all there for a bresaola. In pastirma and apokti, new ground spices are added at this step, so if you want to, you can add another round of spices -- just leave out the salt, curing salt and sugar.
  • Truss the meat, or fit into a sausage netting; you can buy these online through Butcher & Packer. Hang in your curing chamber.
  • Set your humidity so it is between 85 and 90 percent for a week. Set your temperature in the curing chamber between 50°F and 55°F. Check your humidifier every couple days to make sure it has water in it. Ratchet the humidity down 5 percent each week until you get to 70 percent. Leave it there. It's OK if it jumps higher from time to time, but under no circumstances should you let the humidity get lower than 50 percent. Your bresaola can survive a few of these humidity "accidents," but be vigilant.
  • Monitor mold. You actually want a layer of white mold on the bresaola: It protects the meat from nastier molds, and helps the meat to dry evenly. You can inoculate your bresaola with a special mold culture you can buy through The Sausage Maker. Remember: White mold is good. Green mold is not the end of the world, but wipe it away periodically with vinegar. Black mold is bad. If you get a serious growth of black mold, toss the meat. Vinegar is your friend here. Keep tabs on the bresaola and molds will not get out of hand.
  • After at least a month and as much as 6 months, when your bresaola is firm enough, take it out of the chamber and into the fridge. It will last there indefinitely. You can also keep it in your chamber, or you can seal and freeze it.

Notes

NOTE: If you have a 3-pound piece of meat, you can leave the spices the same. But you will need to decrease the amount of salt, sugar and curing salt. For a 3-pound piece of meat, you will need 25 grams of kosher salt, 30 grams of sugar and 4 grams of Instacure No. 2.