2 ways-Bresaola-salumi

A traditional cured meat, typically made with beef, venison, or horse. Thanksgiving 2011 Obama in all his infinite wisedom or lack there of, signed lifting ban of the slaughter and sale of horses for human consumption. Now don’t panic.  Horse tastes very similar to beef and venison. That’s why you can use beef or venison. The color varies with which meat you use.

First and foremost let’s go over salumi. Salumi means, Cured meats that are sliced and served as an appetizer in an Italian meal, or A general word for cured meats including those made with ground meats, such as salami and mortadella, and whole, bone-in meats, such as prosciutto,or salt-cured meats, such as salame, salsiccia, prosciutto, bresaola. A salumeria is a shop where salumi are sold. It’s italian.

Sometimes people come to me with recipes and say things like I got a problem. The problem is there is white mold on salamis or cured meat. Well this naturally occurring mold is encouraged by the right storage conditions. It is harmless and adds to the flavor of the product. That’s right, scape it off, some salumi has this white mold on outside rather then it being scraped off to add flavor to the end product. YOU WILL NOT DIE FROM IT!

Then there is people who tell me there is green or black mold on salamis or cured meat. The salt solution was too weak, or the meat was not cured properly, or the storage atmosphere was too damp and warm. Do not eat it…it will kill you! 

First and foremost there are three factors in curing meat. They are:

temperature: a safe temperature range for curing meat is below 60F. Above that and bacteria grows a lot faster. Ideally you want the temperature between 50F and 60F. Below 50F and the curing process slows down a great deal, making the process take much, much longer. Most likely you are going to find that you will have to cool of an area to get it to 60F rather than heat it. (Bresaola is traditionally cured at 65, I recommend lowering the temp to 60)

humidity: for most of the curing you want the humidity between 70% and 75%. Below 70% and you run the risk of the outside of your salami/meat drying out too fast, which means moisture is trapped on the inside, leading to spoilage. If the humidity is really high for too long then the sausage wont dry correctly, and you run the risk of getting a lot of bad mold on the charcuterie. Charcuterie is the french word, in english, meat curing, or sausage making.

Ideally when you first put something in to dry cure, you want the humidity at around 85%, and then over the course of the next week you want to drop the humidity down to 75%. The reasoning here is that you want your humidity just a bit less than the water content of the meat you are curing – this stops the meat drying out too fast and developing case hardening. At the start of curing the meat has a lot of moisture in it (especially leaner cuts), so you want your curing humidity to almost match that. As the meat looses water you drop the humidity down accordingly (or roughly anyhow).

Typically we find that most areas in a house aren’t this humid, unless you have a cold, dank basement. Often enough we find ourselves having to add extra humidity to a space to make it perfect.

air flow: some air flow is critical in not only helping to dry the meat (pulling moisture away from the surface of the meat), but it also really helps keep bad mold (green, black and fury mold) off the meat too, since there isn’t stagnant damp air constantly around the meat. In practical terms this can just mean fanning the meat a couple of times a day, or setting up a low powered fan to blow a little air around.

Now that you understand the conditions needed and a few pitfalls. Let’s get this onward.

I was gifted for an early birthday present a scale that measures in grams. Yay! I recommend getting one.

The marinade.

100 grams Kosher salt
120 grams sugar
20 grams InstaCure #2 (“pink salt” not very fond of using it but it’s needed)
20 grams ground black pepper
30 grams Laurel leaves, finely chopped
24 cloves, ground (I used my blender)

Coat a 16 pound horse roast with this mixture until evenly well coated. It will need to be an top round. The roast must be trimmed of all…and I mean all fat. Fat will turn rancid and destroy the end result.

Take the roast and place it into a ziplock and squeeze the air out. The cure will start drawing juices from the meat making a marinade. Other recipes call for wine, specifically an inexpensive italian red wine. Which is added to the bag so that the meat is covered fully. I won’t do this, I use wine from Valtellina the area of italy the bresaola is from, any good lombardia wine is good. Inexpensive is one thing, any old red is just sacrilage. (I will provide another recipe for a wine version)

The meat should after you put in the ziplock you will need to wait a week it should feel quite firm. This means the marinade did it’s job, but make sure you flip it and agitate it daily during the week. It may take longer depending on how cool. 60 degrees is perfect, if it’s lower it’ll take longer.

For the next step Your best bet is a curing chamber. If you got a curing chamber built, you need to drop the humidity down 1.5% per day.

A week has passed it feels firm, it might take 10 days depending on the temp. keep it at 60 degrees and it’ll be a week. Wrap the bresaola in 2 layers of cheesecloth. Hang it at 60 degrees, with good ventilation and humidity will start out at 85%, drop it down 1.5% humidity every day. It will take about 4 weeks. When you squeeze it it should be hard and will not have any give.

Bresaola is then traditionally is covered and hung in a mountain pass to age for 3-4 months. I lack a mountain pass in my backyard, it’s ready to eat right now. You could however wrap it and age it in your fridge. Wrap it in 2-3 layers of cheesecloth and let it sit. The temprature must be BELOW 40 degrees.

Here’s a good link on building a cheap yet good curing chamber. http://www.sausagemaker.com/tutorials/chamber/curing_chamber.html

NOW! Let’s get onto wet cured. Wet cured means it’s cured submerged in a liquid.

20-24 pounds of top round, eye round or bottom round (top is best) [cut into half and trimmed of fat]
2 to 2.6 gallons of red wine from lombardy
5 pounds salt, course is preferable.
24 large branches rosemary
2 large bunch of thyme
16 bay leaves
16 large garlic cloves
1 cup black peppercorns
1 cup juniper berries
2 tablespoon pepperocino (crushed red pepper flakes)
2 head of fennel and fronds diced small
4 large sweet onions diced
4 large carrots diced
4 oranges worth of peels

Mix all ingredients to make a wet marinade. Place the meat in it the marinade should cover the meat. Leave for a week.The meat will be firm. Turn over once during the week. After a week is up, remove from the marinade. Wrap in 2 layers of cheesecloth. Hang at 60 degrees. Put something under it, it will drip. Leave it for 3-4 weeks. It is done when you squeeze it and there is no give. If mold forms thats perfectly ok as long as it is white. If it’s green or black toss it. Remove the white stuff with a brush then wash with vinegar. Oil with olive oil and wrap and keep refrigerated. The instructions from my translation of the notes also say you can drop the temprature down to 32 f with the mold still on it, and allow it to age 3-4 months or longer. Then remove the mold after it has aged, and give it the olive oil bath.

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