Charcuterie

Home Cured Bresaola

September 16, 2009

Yes folks, its moldy meat drama time again.

Some long time readers (hi Danika, hi Mum) might remember the saga of me curing a bresaola at home last year. In fact, it was about 10 months ago if memory serves me. Thankfully actually, memory doesn’t have do anything – I have posts on that last emotional episode –

The initial setup

Traumatic update

Trash Can

Back then, the humidity dropped too low, caused case hardening (outside dries out too fast, inside stays wet, develops rot), and ended up in the trash can. Was a bit of an emotional ride for some reason.

After doing that failed bresaola I tried my hand at duck proscuitto. That turned out wonderfully. I might be doing some more of that pretty soon, it was that tasty (and darn right easy).

This time round with another piece of eye of round (the cut for a small bresaola), I am doing things differently. A friend who works at a hotel/restaurant in Seattle gave me a call to say that the place wanted to get rid of some old wine coolers that they had converted to be meat curing lockers. Get rid of it for free I should mention. Turns out this wine cooler is just about perfect – holds a great temperature, is large, and pretty economical (far more than an old fridge I got off craigslist to do the same job..). This should give me a far more controlled environment than just hanging the meat in a cage, in my garage.

Turns out I am still having some humidity problems, but have them under control somewhat. It still varies a lot, especially when the wine cooler turns on – it of course blows dry cold air into the chamber, which lowers the humidity. Keeping the door open a jar has helped, but it isn’t perfect. I have a humidifier on the way, which I am going to bung in the bottom of the wine cooler – that should sort it out once and for all.

So – the bresaola. You rub a trimmed eye of round in salt and spices, and let it pretty much sit in the fridge for two weeks – turning and rubbing every now and again. You clean it off, tie it up, and hang it in a cool, humid place until pretty much stiff, and it has lost about 30% of its weight.

This hunk of beef has been hanging now for about 3 weeks. It is pretty darn firm (a little too firm on the exterior for my liking, but should be OK) – I am hoping just another week will see it done. I just couldn’t resist posting a few shots of it now though.

Thankfully this one isn’t quite as much drama. I know a little more about the process now. The humidity has been a source of worry – but I am learning just to adapt, make changes, relax a bit (Danika might tell you otherwise..), and see how it goes. If it is another trash can job, I haven’t lost much cash, just time and love.

Friends on twitter have thought differently however! Comments like: “mamster @wrightfood You and your bresaola. The drama never ends.” and the rather cheeky: “ChefReinvented @mamster seriously, man @wrightfood should just go buy some, hang it in his basement, snap its beauty shot and call it a day”.

So perhaps this experiment in narrowly dodging boutulism poisoning isn’t quite as drama free as I first thought…



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  • Allison Arevalo September 16, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    LOVE the shot of hanging meat against a black background. I don’t know, you’re making me think twice about trying this myself. Maybe I should stick to the duck.

  • Colloquial Cook September 16, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Yours is a labor of love, Matt. This braseola shall not disappoint, I have a feeling :-) It even looks friendly.

  • Nick September 16, 2009 at 8:13 pm

    Not sure if you recall, but we had a brief exchange around the last time you did this. Mine turned out alright, though it ended up a little bit bent as I did a rather poor job tying it. I’ve since put together a nice little setup with a minifridge that traps moisture quite well, and I’ve rigged it to maintain approximately 50-55 degrees F. This get much more consistent results. I currently have a couple pieces of guinciale going, and I’ve become particularly fond of a version of cured pork shoulder, with a cure adapted from Michael Ruhlman’s recipe for lardo in charcuterie. Next up, I’m planning a cold smoked, dry cured pork loin.

  • Nurit - 1 family. friendly. food. September 16, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    oh, yeah, I rememebr… so, indeed, drama time again!
    Good that you have such supportive friends as ChefReinvented and mamster .
    So, did you really truly make this orrrrr is it store bought? fess up!

  • Hélène September 16, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    I’ve been following the drama also. What a job to do this Cured Bresaola. Hope you see great results.

  • Irina@PastryPal September 16, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I’m rooting for you. Sooner or later you can only get it right.

  • nina September 17, 2009 at 5:42 am

    People can be such passion killers……you just keep going at it, perfection lies in trying just one more time…..

  • Jada September 18, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Very brave! Good luck.

  • Culinary as my second career September 18, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Found your Blog, very exciting to see your cooking chops, no pun intended. I will be a daily reader for sure.

  • Aran September 18, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Like we would say in Spanish.. “mandales a la mierda”. Keep at it! Love the passion!

  • pam September 19, 2009 at 2:00 am

    This looks way outta my range. We had a hard enough time keeping all the bacteria beasties away when my husband made beer.

  • zenchef September 27, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    This is a true labor of love. I’m crossing my fingers that it will be as good as it looks. Sounds like it’s going to be a success. And even if it doesn’t work just the photograph of the bresaola hanging was worth all the efforts, i think.

  • Mel @ bouchonfor2.com October 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    That looks marvelous. Bravo :)

  • Scott October 4, 2009 at 11:52 pm

    Matt, if you find that it is too hard on the exterior, try casing it. This is the exact reason I case mine. I find the tough exterior a little challenging.

  • Hank October 6, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    Looks fine, Matt. Nice penicillin coating, too. No black mold this time…

    Incidentially, if you really want to avoid tha firm exterior, jack the humidity to 80% for the first 3-4 days, then drop it 2-3% every few days until you get to 60 percent in 5 weeks or so. Better flavor, moister, too…

  • annie October 23, 2009 at 7:59 am

    well, methinks this charcuterie attempt is fantastic…always loved the food halls at harrod’s…keep up the good work!!