Bresaola is cured, lean, red meat, typically beef. Venison lends itself extremely well to this recipe and it best enjoyed sliced wafer-thin with good quality Parmigiano Reggiano and a little olive oil. This is one of my favorite ways to make good use of the meat on a larger deer, say a fallow buck or Red stag. Quality is very important and you will want a large enough piece of solid muscle around 4 inches thick and 8-12 inches long, trimmed of any fat. To make good bresaola, the cut must be very lean.
The below recipe is listed as percentages to make things easier for you to translate for your own weight of the meat.
Venison – 1000gr
Salt – 27.5gr
Sugar – 10gr
Pepper – 5gr
Thyme – 2gr
Juniper Berries – 1gr
Zatar – 1gr
Cure #2 – 2.5gr
Grind all of the above ingredients up in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Mix well and then in a non-reactive container coat the venison on all sides with the mixture. Try to get as much of an even spread as possible. Either vacuum pack the meat, or place in a zip lock bag squeezing all the air out and place in the kitchen fridge for 10 days to 2 weeks depending on the thickness of the piece. Flip and massage every now and then to ensure a good, even cure.
When cured, it will feel firmer and more solid. Remove from the bag and give it a good rinse and pat dry. Now to case and give it a long nap in your brand new curing chamber. You can either case it in a beef bung (or Ox cap), or a sterile piece of muslin cheesecloth. I have tried both and it depends on what I have in stock, to be honest.
Ox Bung or a Beef cap.
Ox bungs are the widest of all the beef natural casings. Taken from the largest part of the intestine, they arrive heavily salted and normally used for large salumi and haggis. To use, give it a long, good soak in warm water. (Distilled water is probably best). They stink to high heaven, so don’t get too up close and curious.
The advantage of using a natural casing is that you get a nice skin on the bresaola which you can also then spray with Bactoferm Mold 600. Stuff the Bresaola into the ox bung and make sure that it is nice and tight. With a sterilized needle prick little holes all over it and squeeze out any air. This is very important as bacteria can flourish in trapped air pockets and ruin all your hard work. Using sterile butchers string, tie it up nice and tight and close either end with a ‘Bubble Knot’ (See below) To use, dissolve 5gr of Bactoferm in 50ml of distilled water and leave to bloom for 12 hours. Add 150ml of distilled water and either spoon the liquid over the bresaola with a bowl underneath to catch, or pour into a clean spray bottle and give them a good soaking of the solution.
If using the muslin, boil the cloth and some butchers string for a few minutes to sterilize and then leave to cool naturally or in cold distilled water. Wrap up the bresaola well and tie nice and tight with the string.
Weigh it, record the date and weight and hang in your chamber at 85% humidity and 11 degrees Celsius. After 5 days, drop the humidity to 75% and leave until the bresaola has lost around 40% of its original weight. It should be around a month or so. Keep an eye out for green or black or white fuzzy mold, and case hardening (see post on charcuterie problems) and enjoy when ready!