Between making plans to live up a tree for 6 months (which you can follow on this here very blog and Twitter), I have been finishing up my city days playing about with a few preservation techniques that might come in handy in the woods, as lack of fridge/freezer will prove a problem.
As you may have guessed, Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall has proved himself a fine source of inspiration over the years; he may very well be the man responsible for many of my culinary adventures here and there. He is a good fellow and even let me into his kitchen once, in my drunken state, to help make crème brulees for all his other guests. Trusting to say the least…
Bresaola originated in the Alps of Northern Italy, clever buggers them Italians! It looks like Carpaccio…but cured, it could be Parma ham, but its beef- confusion was certainly the driving force behind giving this one a go.
Despite Hugh having a fine looking recipe, it’s never your own unless you allow for a little tweaking, an exclusion of some ingredients and an addition of others. I added a few crushed juniper berries, a little Lea & P and two teaspoons of Cumin- not a lot but I felt it would make all the difference.
3.5-4.5 joint of beef silverside.
- 250g Coarse sea salt (Maldon flakes)
- 12 sprigs of Rosemary
- 2 tsp of Cumin
- 2 tsp of Lea & Perrins
- 10 crushed Juniper berries
- 10 Bay leaves
- 20 cloves
- 4 Garlic cloves (crushed)
- 1 tbsp of cracked black pepper
- 2 tsp of dried chilli flakes
- 6 strips of lemon zest (finely chopped)
- 1 bottle of Red wine (Cote Du Rhone or Italian)
Mix up all the ingredients in a plastic Tupperware; make sure the joint or joints will fit in snugly.
Trim the beef of all fat and sinew and place it in the marinade coating them well.
Keep in the fridge or a cool place for 5 days, turning twice daily.
After 5 days soaking, remove the beef, which should have taken on a deep purple colour by now, rinse under a cold tap and pat dry with a tea towel.
Wrap the joint tightly in a double layer of muslin and truss up like the picture below.
Hang in a cool place (cellar or garage) for 10 days till the beef is hard to the touch. I told you it was easy.
The next stage can be a bit of a ball ache if you don’t have an electric meat slicer. Word of warning- don’t try to do it yourself at home with a sharp knife, fingers could be lost and you wont do your bresaola justice.
I took mine up to the Butcher & Grill at the top of the road and asked politely if they would be able to do it for me on theirs. Kindly they agreed: at a cost of £5, and told me to pop back at 8.30 that evening to pick it up.
Bare in mind that it was a Friday night, my friend Nick and I had been enjoying a few ales in the local pub eagerly waiting to sate our appetites with my latest gastro-creation. Come 9pm we stumbled over to the Butcher & Grill to pick up the goods.
“How did it turn out?” I said to the Butcher, trying not to give off the slightest slur.
“Rubbish.” He said. Then, whilst I stood there looking like I had just been mugged, he cracked a smile and said: “Amazing! It looks fantastic!”
What a joker…
He handed me a wrapped bundle from the fridge. “You realise you’ve got about 35 quid’s-worth of cured meat there.”
I did and it was all mine!
We picked up a loaf of olive ciabatta and a bottle of red and promptly returned home to gorge ourselves. Out came all my many jars of homemade pickled things and we sat down at the table to enjoy a cured meat and pickle fest- after all this is how the Italians do it don’t they?
The bresaola was amazing: wafer thin and virtually melted in the mouth. I did pick up on a minor error, it was, perhaps a touch too salty. My mistake became clear when I looked at the recipe and saw the weight of the meat, 3.5 to 4.5 Kg. I had used about 1.8kg! Overkill!
We had layer upon layer of the stuff, all beautifully laid out by the person who had laboriously cut it. A few days later I went up with the second bresaola (it was hardly going to last long). As I approached the women behind the counter with my muslin clad beef in hand and asked if I could have it cut, her face dropped like a sack of potatoes…I now had the answer to who had cut my last bresaola!