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Ruhlman's Bresaola Question

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Hello everyone, been browsing the forums for a while and wanted to thank you all for all of the resources thus far.  Finally decided to try my hands at some charcuterie so I built a chamber, picked up Ruhlman and Polycyn's Charcuterie, and am ready to try my hand at Bresaola.  I did run into a little question on his recipe that I was hoping you all could give some insight into.


In the chapter intro and the majority of curing recipes, it calls for using Insta Cure #2 for extended hangs, which is consistent with things that I have read on here and elsewhere online.  However, in the Bresaola recipe, he only calls for 56g of kosher salt and no Insta Cure for 1.5kg of beef with a 3 week hang time.  This seemed off to me so I started looking at other recipes in the book and Bresaola recipes around here and on the web.  As I said, most of the recipes in the book all call for 56g kosher salt and 7g Insta Cure #2 in the curing mix (e.g. Soppressata, Spanish Chorizo, Saucisson Sec).  I know that these are ground sausages, whereas Bresaola is a whole muscle, but it still seems like the Insta Cure should be included.


Also, various interpretations of the Ruhlman recipe call for Insta Cure such as:

http://www.spensermag.com/bresaola-%28michael-ruhlman---brian-polcyn%29.html - 25g kosher salt + 4g Insta Cure #2

http://curedmeats.blogspot.com/2007/11/bresaola.html - 47g kosher salt + 5g Insta Cure #2



So I was hoping that the fine folks on these forums could help shed some light on why the Insta Cure might have been omitted from the recipe in the book.  I am leaning towards using it for safety reasons, but given that this is my first cure, it just seemed a little off and wanted to get a guide from those who have done this before.  Also, as you can see, the recipes above each call for different proportions of salt and cure for the same quantity of beef (1.5kg).  Does anyone have a recommendation or trusted resource on determining proportions for the cure?



post #2 of 7

Great catch !!!!   There are hundreds of misprints in books...   You caught a good one.....  


Marianski recommends 2.8% salt....  and 0.6% cure #2, which I think is high....  he recommends 1 tsp per Kg...    I think he did that for convenience....   

As a general rule, cure #1 and cure #2 are used at the same rate which is 0.25% cure or 1.1 grams per pound or 2.5 grams per Kg....  

The 2.8% salt is pretty much normal and is considered a minimum amount to use to maintain a salt content that halts bacterial growth when the product is at it's final weight...  With the reduction in weight, the moisture content should be below the Aw, water activity level for no bacterial growth and then the salt increase, in %, because of the water loss will also keep the meat safe against bacteria... 

A 30% weight loss converts to something around 4% salt in the final product... 

Off the top of my head, I can't recall if 4% salt is a good  number for long term storage but it sounds right....  I wish I could remember everything then I could get rid of these books.... OK, this document says 4.5% is microbiologically stable...  with a water activity of .96...  and I have no idea how to measure water activity....  It appears 3.2% salt and a 30% weight loss puts the salt at ~4.5% when the product is dry...  2.8% salt and 40% weight  loss is ~4.5% when dried..  Either way, knowing your final target weight will determine the salt to add initially to achieve the final recommended salt content... 




c) Ripening and fermentation of cured-raw meat products

After the curing period, a ripening (maturing) and fermentation period is required for the full development of the typical flavour of raw-cured meat products. At the start of the ripening period, all curing salt is removed from the meat surfaces and the meat cuts are either spread on trays or hung on sticks in refrigerated rooms at initial temperatures between +2 and +5°C (Fig. 217). During this phase the cured meat cuts develop the typical flavour, colour and texture. In the course of the ripening period, temperatures are gradually increased, but should not exceed +12°C. Ripening is a very slow process and can take up to several months for specific products. Throughout the entire process (curing, ripening, fermentation) the meat looses a significant portion of its water content. This process starts during curing, when salt penetrates the meat in exchange for moisture, and is continued during ripening, when moisture from the meat evaporates and dry partially. At the end of the ripening phase the salt concentration should reach ³4.5% (aW 0.96) as this ensures a microbiologically stable product. Hams dried and fermented in natural or climatized air are called “air dried hams” (Fig. 218, 219). Air dried beef is a very tasty product and attracts high prices (Fig. 221)

post #3 of 7

It's not a misprint or an error. Bresaola isn't generally cured with nitrites/nitrates which is why it's a great beginner piece.

post #4 of 7
Not an error in the book. You are drying the whole muscle, so salt will do the job. Now why the inconsistency (in the book) between other whole muscle recipes (using cure) and bresa (no cure)? Dont know...ask Rhulman.
post #5 of 7


Monday, November 26, 2007

Bresaola - Curing


If you've ever eaten in a high falootin' Italian restaurant you've no doubt seen "bresaola" served with Parmigiano shavings, maybe some rucola/rocket/arugola salad, some nice oil and lemon juice.

Bresaola is a great cured meat. It isn't made from pork, which is uncommon as far as salumi go; it is made from beef, or also, quite commonly in Italy, horse or donkey. Basically a very lean piece of meat (most commonly beef, especially if bought commercially) is salt cured with spices, then dried.

Sliced thin it makes a superb antipasto when drizzled with a mixture of oil, lemon juice and black pepper, it great in a sandwich, and is delicious just eaten out of hand. This is one salume people worried about cholesterol and fat don't have to feel guilty about eating.

So lets get to how it can be made at home. Now, given the preliminary results of the survey, I'm going to post this without having tasted the results. This means my spices could be entirely out of whack. This is unlikely as I've made this before, but it might happen!

Ingredient Quantity(g) % of Meat
Eye of round 1537 100%
Salt ( Kosher) 78 5%
Sugar 15 1%
Black pepper 7.6 0.5%
Fresh rosemary 3.5 0.25%
Juniper berries 1.7 0.1%
Dry thyme 1.5 0.1%
Cinnamon 0.8 0.05%
Clove 0.4 0.025%
Cure #2 5.15 0.33%

EDIT 1/3/2014 : Since i posted this recipe i've moved to lower salt % in my whole muscle meats. I now use 3%. 5% is very high.

I started with 3 whole eye of round roasts (each one weighed about 1.5kg/3.5lbs). I made sure there was no surface fat or silver skin anywhere. You want the meat nice and clean, a solid block of meat. I like this cut because of the shape and size. It lends itself well to being put into casings.

Mix up the spice mixture after grinding the cinnamon, clove, and juniper berries, chopping up the rosemary and crushing the black peppercorns.Make sure you really mix everything up, especially if you're making a double or triple batch for 2 or 3 pieces of meat, as I did.

Take the mixture and really massage it into the meat. You really want to get the meat and salt nicely worked into it. This should take 1 or 2 minutes, don't do it for 15; this isn't a cow spa!

Take you piece of meat and put it into a ziplock bag, including all the salt and spices that fell off it while massaging it. Get out as much air as possible from the bag, and seal it up. Put it in the fridge for 15-21 days.
Massage the meat while it is in the bag every 2 or 3 days, flipping it to make sure it is getting even exposure to the liquid which will have formed in the bag.

This method can be used on many lean pieces of beef. My notes from 2005 tell me I used a rump roast once. As long as the piece is nice and large, somewhat regularly shaped and LEAN, you should be able to use it. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm not sure why it HAS to be lean. I imagine a nicely marbled piece of beef would taste pretty good cured! But, as I've said, i like the eye of round, as it is a good size and shape.
Normally I'd use 1/2 eye of round roasts which are commonly found at markets, but this time i found whole ones. Either way, just scale the formula as needed by weight.

I'll be back in about a week to detail the casing and hanging. I'll be using 100mm casings for this.


post #6 of 7





Excerpted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking and Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn.


Featured in spenser magazine issue 1, nov.dec 2011, on page 95.

This air-dried beef is common in the mountainous regions of northern Italy. A very lean, intensely flavored preparation, it’s usually sliced paper-thin and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice. You might also serve it with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, some greens, and thin slices of baguette. If possible, use grass-fed or organically raised beef.


The Spice Cure

1 oz./25 grams kosher salt (about 2 tbsp.)

2 tbsp./30 grams sugar 3⁄4 tsp./4 grams Insta Cure #2 or DC Curing Salt #2

1 1⁄2 tsp./5 grams freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp./6 grams chopped fresh rosemary

2 tsp./6 grams fresh thyme leaves

5 juniper berries, crushed with the side of a knife


One 3-lb./1.5 kg beef eye of the round roast, no more than 3 inches/7.5 centimeters in diameter, trimmed of all visible fat, sinew, and silverskin.

1. Combine all the spice cure ingredients in a spice or coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder.


2. Rub half the spice cure all over the meat, rub- bing it in well. Place in a 2-gallon/8-liter Ziploc bag or a nonreactive container and refrigerate for 7 days, turning it every couple of days.

3. Remove the beef from the liquid (discard it) and rub in the remaining spice cure. Return to the refrigerator for 7 more days.


4. Rinse the beef thoroughly under cold water to remove any remaining spices and pat dry with paper towels. set on a rack on a baking sheet uncovered at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours.


5. Tie the beef with butcher’s twine. Hang the meat (ideally at 60°F/15°C with 60 to 70 percent humidity) for about three weeks. The meat should feel firm on the outside and silky smooth when sliced. (Yields approx. 2 pounds of bresaola; about 30 appetizer servings).



Note: A favorite source for all sausage making and meat processing supplies is Butcher & Packer supply Company in Madison Heights, Mi. They ship nationionwide.  If this is your first time attempting to dry cure meat, we highly recommend that you read the food safety sections in Charcuterie before starting.

post #7 of 7

I have found 2 references to Ruhlman's recipe and they both mention he uses cure #2....  Sooooo, I guessing it was an omission from that particular printing you are reading...

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