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A Day in the Life of Bresaola, North London Style

By Tori McGaugh

Having never cured meat before, I was naturally quite nervous as I imagined that if you stuff it up it would be in the food poisoning kind of way. I was assured that you would 'know' if it had gone bad, so with that in mind off we went.

We opted for a smaller piece of silverside for our first journey into curing meat, however now wish we'd been a little braver and gone for a larger muscle to cure. Next time, definitely.

So hear it is - A Day in the Life of Bresaola, North London Style - courtesy of the Guardian Life & Style. Please note that the below recipe has been adapted by half to reflect the size of the cut.

Preparation time: 30 mins
Curing time: 3 weeks


Ingredients:

1 x Silverside

For the Cure:

50g of coarse salt
50g of sugar
2.5g black pepper
2.5g of Prague Powder #2 (available from http://www.sausagemaking.org/acatalog/cure_2.html)
Ground rosemary and juniper berries (optional)

Muslin bag
String


Week 1:

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1) We started by trimming off all surface fat and silverskin. The recipe specified that we didn't try to remove the single vein of silverskin running through the centre of the muscle as the meat will fall apart if you do (besides which, it looks kind of good in the finished product).

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2) We made up a dry cure from 50g of coarse salt, 50g of sugar, 2.5g black pepper and 2.5g of Prague Powder #2 (available here http://www.sausagemaking.org/acatalog/cure_2.html ). We opted for just the simple cure, however the Guardian recipe suggests adding ground rosemary and juniper berries.

3) We rubbed half of the cure into the surface of the meat and sealed it in a freezer bag. We put the meat in the bottom of the fridge to marinate and turned it daily (we set an alarm on our phones to ensure that we wouldn't forget). After a week, we removed the meat, dried it with a paper towel and then rubbed with the second half of the cure. We resealed and marinated for a second week.


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Week 2:

4) We took it out of the fridge after the specified time, and it actually didn't look that different to when we put it in. We removed the remaining cure and patted it dry with paper towels, then trussed it up - as follows: tie two pieces of string vertically around the meat then tie a series of butchers knots horizontally around.

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5) We wrapped it in a small muslin bag (sourced from our local kitchen shop) labelled (weight and datet) and hung, as specified, in a cool and not too dry place. We chose our cellar, right next to the slightly open cellar window (which made me a bit nervous as I half expected to see a mouse hanging off of it each time I went downstairs) - it turned out to be the ideal location. We checked it every couple of days (by taking a good deep sniff for unpleasantness and weighing carefully - you'd know if it is not 'right', off meat smells really nasty).

6) The Guardian recipe suggests removing the muslin for the last week of drying, washing it off with a clean piece of muslin soaked in vinegar if there was any mould forming. We kept the muslin on (for fear of the non-existent mouse).


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Week 3:

7) Per the recipe, our Bresaola was ready after 3 weeks, when it had lost 30% of it's labelled weight.


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Hubby Ken with the Bresaola. Very pleased!

Here it is, after three weeks of curing.


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We sliced and served traditionally on top of rocket with a little olive oil and lemon juice drizzled over the top - unless you have a slicer this can be slightly tricky so we ended up using a tool we picked up in Vietnam that did an OK job. We did a taster test with a store bought bresaola, and it was not too far off, ours was a bit less spiced, which is good to know for next time.

So whilst a bit of a intimidating task, we'd definitely do it again. Scandinavian dried lamb next, perhaps? ;-)


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