Bresaola - Recipe and Calculator

Sliced Bresaola

For those that don't know, Bresaola is an air-dried beef that originates in the north of Italy. In the past, I've always made it using Jason Molinari's recipe from curedmeats.blogspot.co.uk. The recipe below, whilst very different from Jason's, owes its heritage to his. I've removed the cinnamon and clove, reduced the other spices and added a small amount of garlic.

The best of the Italian versions, Bresaola della Valtellina, uses meat from the leg: the cuts we know as topside, silverside and top rump (thick flank). In the US 'Eye of round' would be a good choice. It's best with a piece of meat from one muscle to avoid connective tissue - I used Silverside for mine.

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Old Cure Recipes - 2. Dry Cures, the Theory

Having looked at some of the reasons why we wouldn't just use older cures without amendment in the previous post, let's actually look at a cure and some of the questions it throws up.

A fairly easy recipe to start with, recipe 878 from the 1872 print of 'Warnes Every-day Cookery Book':

Bacon

878. For every forty or fifty pounds of meat, allow one pound of bay salt; one pound of saltpetre; two ounces of salprunella; four pounds of common salt.

In Yorkshire and the northern counties, pigs are scalded ; the hams, spareribs, and chine cut off, and then afterwards salted thus :—
Rub them well with common salt, and lay them on a board for the first brine to run away, for twenty-four hours; then take for every side of forty or fifty pounds, the above quantity of bay salt, saltpetre, sal-prunella bruised fine, and mixed with four pounds of common salt. Rub the pork well with salt, and put it in the pans at full length; turn and rub it in the brine every day for a fortnight, then take it out, strew it all over with bran or sawdust, and hang it in a wood smoke till it is dry ; place it in a cool dry place, taking care that it does not touch the wall, as that would spoil it.

I say 'easy' because at least this recipe gives us both the amount of ingredients and the amount of meat to cure; often they don't.

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Using Old Cure Recipes

Recently the subject of old curing recipes has come up on two occasions: once in relation to a recipe from a Jane Grigson book, and the other in respect of an American corned beef recipe. Neither person had any qualms about using the recipe; the questions they asked were unrelated to the advisability of using the cure. However, in using older cure recipes, there are a number of things that we need to consider.

old curing books

The first is the amount of curing salt used on the meat. In old recipes, this will generally be in the form of saltpetre (potassium nitrate), Chile saltpetre (sodium nitrate) or even Sal Prunella - a salt made by fusing saltpetre into balls, which produces minute quantities of potassium nitrite enabling the curing process to start more quickly. Many older recipes contain levels of these salts well above the levels considered safe nowadays.

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My Favourite Bacon

Back bacon rashers

I recently posted a bacon tutorial that I wrote for the sausage making forum. The recipe used was an amalgamation of a few already posted by myself and others, as such it was a compromise. Whilst it makes very nice bacon, it is a little sweet for me. The recipe I use most regularly differs in that it's more salty and has less sugar. The method and other instructions are exactly the same as in the bacon and dry curing tutorial.

For 1kg of meat use:

22gm Salt
8gm Sugar
2.5gm Cure #1
0.5gm Sodium ascorbate (optional)
You can add any herbs and spices you fancy. I generally add a minimum of a sprinkle of black pepper and thyme.

Use the cure pro rata for other weights of meat adding whatever herbs and spices you like.

To aid calculation you can use this cure calculator:

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Mild Bacon

Mmm...BaconBack in 2010, when I posted the bacon tutorial online, I used a recipe with fairly low levels of salt. Many people liked it and it still forms the basis for the tutorial today. That said, it's not the recipe that I use, so I've removed the online calculator from the recipe and put it here to separate the calculators from the tutorials.

Mild Bacon

The ingredients for 1kg of meat are:

18.5gm Salt
10gm Sugar
2.5gm Cure #1
0.5gm Sodium ascorbate (optional)

Use the cure pro rata for other weights of meat adding whatever herbs and spices you like.

For other sizes of meat it's easiest to use this calculator...

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