Pic of Italian Bresaola

Italian Bresaola

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Meat mains

Italian Bresaola

Main Serves 4 20 min
If you've ever thought about trying your hand at a bit of curing, this is one of the easiest places to start. Cured beef, like bacon, is the most utilitarian of products and a little goes a long way - whether eaten on its own, or added to salads and stews. Recipes always seem to call for enormous joints of beef, but smaller cuts are far more manageable and above all, quicker to cure and eat. The process is fairly lengthy, but the product is well worth it.

Cook's notes

Curing beef always involves adding salt. A final salt level of 2% is the minimum to aim for, 2.5% is OK - anything higher will either need soaking, poaching or to be used in cooking in the manner of bacon lardons. Over a period of time, through osmosis, the salt levels will equalise, so a practical approach is to start with a higher salt level of 5-8%. When the joint begins to feel noticeably firm, scrape off any excess salt, wrap in greaseproof paper and place in the fridge to allow the absorbed salt to equalise. Wine and/or vinegar is also a useful curing tool because, with a pH of less than 3.5 it will pickle the meat. Herbs and spices are not only good for flavour, but also work as anti-oxidants and often contain high levels of natural nitrite which help both preserve and fix an attractive red colour.


  • 1 kg beef, trimmed of all fat and sinew
  • 75g salt
  • 1 bunch rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tsp crushed dried chillies
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp garlic, crushed (about 4 cloves)
  • 12 bay leaves
  • peel of ½ orange
  • 150ml each red and white wine


Prep time: 20 min
  • Step 1

    Mix the dry ingredients - everything except the beef and wine - together and rub vigorously into the meat. Repeat an hour later with any leftovers.
  • Step 2

    Place the joint in a plastic zip-lock bag, add the wine, seal and place in a container in the fridge. Leave for a week, turning daily.
  • Step 3

    Remove from the bag, pat dry and hang in a cool dry place. If this is tricky, then just leave it exposed in the fridge.
  • Step 4

    After a week it should be dry and noticeably firm. Brush with olive oil, wrap in greaseproof paper and leave in the fridge for another week.
  • Step 5

    Eat thinly sliced like Parma ham. The downside of curing a small piece of meat is that you will get a higher percentage of dry bits around the outside, but you can treat these like bacon and use as a base for a soup or stew

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