Monday, November 26, 2007

Bresaola - Curing

If you've ever eaten in a high falootin' Italian restaurant you've no doubt seen "bresaola" served with Parmigiano shavings, maybe some rucola/rocket/arugola salad, some nice oil and lemon juice.

Bresaola is a great cured meat. It isn't made from pork, which is uncommon as far as salumi go; it is made from beef, or also, quite commonly in Italy, horse or donkey. Basically a very lean piece of meat (most commonly beef, especially if bought commercially) is salt cured with spices, then dried.

Sliced thin it makes a superb antipasto when drizzled with a mixture of oil, lemon juice and black pepper, it great in a sandwich, and is delicious just eaten out of hand. This is one salume people worried about cholesterol and fat don't have to feel guilty about eating.

So lets get to how it can be made at home. Now, given the preliminary results of the survey, I'm going to post this without having tasted the results. This means my spices could be entirely out of whack. This is unlikely as I've made this before, but it might happen!

IngredientQuantity(g)% of Meat
Eye of round1537100%
Salt ( Kosher)785%
Black pepper7.60.5%
Fresh rosemary3.50.25%
Juniper berries1.70.1%
Dry thyme1.50.1%
Cure #25.150.33%

EDIT 1/3/2014 : Since i posted this recipe i've moved to lower salt % in my whole muscle meats. I now use 3%. 5% is very high.

I started with 3 whole eye of round roasts (each one weighed about 1.5kg/3.5lbs). I made sure there was no surface fat or silver skin anywhere. You want the meat nice and clean, a solid block of meat. I like this cut because of the shape and size. It lends itself well to being put into casings.

Mix up the spice mixture after grinding the cinnamon, clove, and juniper berries, chopping up the rosemary and crushing the black peppercorns.Make sure you really mix everything up, especially if you're making a double or triple batch for 2 or 3 pieces of meat, as I did.

Take the mixture and really massage it into the meat. You really want to get the meat and salt nicely worked into it. This should take 1 or 2 minutes, don't do it for 15; this isn't a cow spa!

Take you piece of meat and put it into a ziplock bag, including all the salt and spices that fell off it while massaging it. Get out as much air as possible from the bag, and seal it up. Put it in the fridge for 15-21 days.
Massage the meat while it is in the bag every 2 or 3 days, flipping it to make sure it is getting even exposure to the liquid which will have formed in the bag.

This method can be used on many lean pieces of beef. My notes from 2005 tell me I used a rump roast once. As long as the piece is nice and large, somewhat regularly shaped and LEAN, you should be able to use it. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure why it HAS to be lean. I imagine a nicely marbled piece of beef would taste pretty good cured! But, as I've said, i like the eye of round, as it is a good size and shape.
Normally I'd use 1/2 eye of round roasts which are commonly found at markets, but this time i found whole ones. Either way, just scale the formula as needed by weight.

I'll be back in about a week to detail the casing and hanging. I'll be using 100mm casings for this.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Need an opinion about blog posts.

Need an opinion from my readers (anybody out there?)

As you know this is a slow hobby, and as you've seen posts are pretty infrequent (there really is only so much cured meat I can eat!). One way to speed up the posts very slightly would be to post the procedure for curing the meat separately from the tasting notes. Posting it all together makes it a little neater, and puts everything in 1 post, although the posts needs to wait for the meat to finish curing.

So, please vote in the poll on the sidebar to the right. One, longer post for each product, or separate each product into multiple posts to increase the frequency (slightly).



Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Finally a new post! Well, I had told you guys that this is a slow going hobby, and posts would come slowly. Hopefully I haven't lost everyone :)

This is one of the coppe which just came out of the curing chamber, the one on which I used my traditional dry salting method. The other, the wet cured one is still an unknown at this point.

Let me walk you through the process and the formula I used for this one. This assumes you've procured yourself a nice coppa from a shoulder, or by some other means. If you don't know what I'm talking about, use this link, to see my previous post on the subject.

IngredientQuantity(g)% of Meat
Pork Coppa
Salt ( Kosher)
White Pepper
Cure #22

The curing procedure is really quite simple. Crush/grind the pepper and cloves, and massage this whole mixture onto the pork collar (the coppa). Really work it into the meat. Then put the whole thing, and any of the salt and spices which fell off during the massage into a zip lock bag, get as much of the air out as possible, and put it in the fridge.

Leave it in the fridge, massaging the meat every 3 or so days, for about 10-15 days. The length of the stay in the fridge will depend on the thickness and weight of the meat. It is better to leave it too long, than not long enough, so I would go with 15 days. This one cured for 9 days.

Once cured, remove from the fridge, rinse quickly under cold water, and then dry well.

Put it in a casing of the appropriate size. I used 100mm collagen casings. Tie the coppa up, if you want using butchers knots, and then prick profusely with a toothpick while squeezing the coppa in the casing to get as much of the air out as possible. Do this especially at the 2 ends, and anywhere you see pockets of air.

Hang the coppa in your curing chamber. I hung it at 55 def. F and about 75% RH, for 57 days. Until it lost about 36% of its weight.

Once cured I like to put the item (i do with with most of them, coppa, bresaola, salame) in a ziplock bag with a damp paper towel, seal it up and put it in the fridge for a few days. This softens the really hard and dry casing and makes it much easier to peel.

Slice thinly and enjoy.
You can see what makes this piece of meat, and this salume, one of my favorites. The heavy marbling really gives the meat a lot of flavor and unctuousness. The meat really absorbs the flavors of the cure very well and every slice bursts with porky goodness.

So how does it taste? Well, this one in particular is very strong on the clove. I think I used about twice as much as I should have. The saltyness is good. It is dried just about enough to not be too hard to too soft. It is nice and meaty, and tastes pretty delicious. I think next time I'll use 1/2 the amount of clove, increase the white pepper a bit, and maybe add some additional spices like juniper or bay leaf.


Sunday, November 4, 2007

This coppa has me confused!

In the last post I told you I'd have an update on the coppa. Well, I do. Sort of. The coppas I have curing right now were made using 2 different methods. One was done using a "wet cure" brine in which the pork was soaked, the other was the usual "dry cure" using salt and spices.

Well, the one that was wet cured reached its "weight loss" goal of about 40%, but upon cutting into it, it did not look cured enough, and was still soft. So...back into the curing chamber to see if it salvageable. We'll see in a few weeks I guess. I'm confused about this one because at this weight loss it should be considerably firmer. I'm think the curing brine didn't reach the center of the meat, so this coppa may never be edible.

The other "dry cured" coppa isn't quite ready, I'm estimating another week or 2, and that one should work out, as I've used this formula before. We'll see in a couple week i guess!