Bresaola Attempt 1: The unveiling!

One of the many projects that I left hanging (pun!) before I left on my epic summer journey(s) was the bresaola which I started a month or so ago. If my memory serves me right (yes I’ve been binge watching Iron Chef Japan), I seasoned the beef with very basic herbs and spices to complement the natural flavours of the beef rather than over power it, so hopefully this goal is realized in the tasting. To see how I cured this, click here!

After curing the beef for 10 days, I wrapped it in sheets of pig casing. I think the proper technique is to use whole beef casings of a larger diameter for the stuffing and tying, but the store that I stopped off at was out of stock, and the sales person assured me that these dried sheets will work just as well. The goal of this site is to learn through experimentation, and the sheets only cost about 10 bucks, so what did I have to lose?

I roughly ground up some pepper and thoroughly covered the bresaola before the wrapping process. Wrapping the bresaola in sheets of pig casing was quite simple; I wetted the sheets slightly to make them more pliable, and essentially rolled the bresaola in the sheets, making sure that there is proper contact between the beef and the bung, with little to no air pockets. Then I heated up a needle, and poked holes in the spots where it seemed like there was bad contact to get the rest of the air out. The wrapped bresaola goes into some netting to make sure that the sheets sticks to the surface, and into the chamber it goes!

I hung the bresaola for about 35 days, during which it lost about 35% of its original weight. This was a bit faster than I expected, but I attribute it to the small diameter of the beef that I used (and perhaps a little bit drier than optimal environment in the chamber).

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At first I thought the white powder was mould (the beneficial type), but upon closer inspection, I think it might just be the colour/texture of the dried sheets.

I sliced a couple of pieces off…

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Tasted amazing!!! There is a bit of case hardening, apparent through the purplish ring that is around the redder centre region. This happened despite the casing. I think I definitely dropped the ball a bit on the humidity maintenance section of this drying process… at times like these, I wish I have a vacuum packing machine; I can stick the bresaola in the vac pac, and let the water equalize for another 2 weeks or so.

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The deep purple colour of the bresaola looked really beautiful. The flavour is out of this world as well, the drying intensified all the beef flavours, and the light spice mix really made the natural flavour of the beef shine, with a slight kick from the surface black pepper. If there is one thing I can change, it would be the cut of the meat; as I mentioned in the last post, the direction of the muscle fibres is not optimal. You can see in the picture above that the slices have muscle fibres running across, which makes the meat slightly tougher. This mistake will definitely be avoided next time.

I declare this one a success!

Until the next time,

-K

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This recipe is for a 700g top round of beef, but can be scaled according to the weight of the beef that you can get your hands on.

  1. Top round (should have gotten eye of round), 900g
  2. 21g of salt (3% weight of beef)
  3. 15g of peppercorns
  4. 15g of juniper berries
  5. 10g oregano
  6. half a head of garlic (5 cloves for me)

Crush the garlic in a garlic crusher or chop finely. Rub the garlic over the beef. Toast the pepper in a pan, removing them when the oils and smells are released. Grind the pepper in a spice grinder, and use a pestle and mortar to break open the juniper berries. It will be hard to get the juniper berries to be finely ground because they release a liquid when broken. Roughly ground is okay, and add more if you feel like there isn’t going to be even coverage. Mix the salt, oregano, ground pepper, and ground juniper berries evenly. Rub the mixture over the meat, taking care to cover as much area as possible. Place the beef inside a freezer bag, and put the excess mix into the bag. Press out as much air as possible from the bag, seal, and place into the fridge with some weight on top. Anything heavy would work, so place all your excess cans of beans, sauce, pans over the beef. Cure for 7-10 days, flipping over the bag every couple of days.

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