Italian Cured Meats: Bresaola

Bresaola and Persimmons. Source:  Megg .

Bresaola and Persimmons. Source: Megg.

The Basics

Definition: Lean cuts of beef, usually tenderloin or fillet. Cured and aged. 

Origin: 15th century. Valtellina, Italy. 

Etymology: (breh-zoh-la), Italian word "brasa" meaning "ember", in association with the braziers that were used to heat curing chambers. 

Curing Process: To start, all the fat is trimmed off the meat. Then the meat is cured using a combination of salts, spices, and herbs. These can include, black pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, clove, thyme, rosemary, oregano, bay leaf, or juniper berries.  

After the bresaola is cleaned and air dried, it is hung and left to cure for at least three months. As the water leaves the meat, the bresaola will lose much of its mass. Over time, the meat will create a ruby red color along with a sweet and aromatic scent. 

Bresaola. Source:  Renee Suen

Bresaola. Source: Renee Suen

Use: Best served when sliced thinly. It is possible to consume bresaola with olive oil, fresh black pepper, or a bit of lemon.

Eat: Avoid foul smelling bresaola. If white mold develops during curing, wipe it off with a towel and vinegar. 

Taste: Lean, sweet, and soft but tender.