A chronicle of my adventures growing, preserving, cooking and eating from my garden and everywhere.

beef round roast for curing bresaola at home
rosemary from my garden
thyme from my garden
herbs and spices for curing bresaola at home
cure rubbed on beef for curing bresaola at home

To prepare the meat I removed all of the exterior fat and silver skin, then divided it into three equal pieces, cutting with the grain.  In addition to the herbs and spices, I added sodium nitrate, salt and sugar.  Because the beef cures at 54 degrees, well above refrigerator temp, it’s a good idea to use a nitrate.  It slowly breaks down into nitrite, preserving the meat over time as it cures, keeping out those bad scary bugs like botulism and other nasty bacteria. The meat, while preserved, is still essentially raw, having never been above room temperature.  You definitely want to keep those bad boys out.  You can also do it with salt alone, but you need quite a lot of it.

I combined all the herbs, spices, salts and sugar in my coffee grinder and ground them to a paste.  Half of the paste was rubbed on the meat, then it went into a big ziplock bag in the fridge.  Each day I turned the bag, redistributing the liquid.  After a week I took the beef out, rinsed it off, rubbed it with the second half of the spice mixture, then placed in a new ziplock bag.  Back in the fridge it went to cure for one more week.

tied cured beef for curing bresaola at home

After two weeks of curing in the fridge, the beef was ready to dry cure.  I rinsed the beef throughly, then tied it up in butchers twine.  My wine fridge, which sits comfortably at 54 degrees, was my intended curing box.  I placed a pan with two inches of heavily salted water in the bottom to humidify the environment.  This is very important as it slows down the drying process, giving the interior of the beef time to dry before the exterior becomes impermeable to water.  If the exterior dries out to fast the center of the beef might rot.  Eew!  But you don’t want it to be to damp, or you’ll be battling some pretty nasty mold.

The goal of drying in this environment is to dehydrate the meat just enough to preserve it further, intensify the flavors, and promote beneficial bacterial action, which adds some acid and other fantastic flavors to the product, just like aging prime beef.  My beef started out 950 grams before entering the wine fridge.  The recommended weight loss is 30%, which is a good indicator or when it’s ready.  It took it out at 635 grams.

bresaola dry curing in wine fridge

I served my first slices of beef on top of a field greens salad dressed with olive oil, balsamic and shaved parmesan cheese.  Amazing!  The first flavor that hits your palette is juniper, followed by a subtle piney flavor of the rosemary, finishing with thyme and pepper.  For something that cured for almost 5 weeks, the herbs tasted very fresh.  The texture was buttery with a little chewiness to it, but not at all tough.  It rounds out with a pronounced meatiness.  Bresaola was like nothing I’ve ever tasted.  I can’t wait to share!

bresaola thinly sliced on greens with parmesan

Known to many for my incredible ability to organize, I tackle gardening and life with equal verve.  Obsessive, is that a bad thing?

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