Curing and smoking

Home made bresaola

February 25, 2016


A joint of beef topside or silverside (as big as you can get in your plastic box)
Pure dried vacuum PDV salt (about 500g)
Demerara sugar (about 100g)
6 sprigs of rosemary
6 bay leaves
About 20 cloves
A tablespoon of peppercorns
Orange peel from one orange, dried and torn into pieces
A bottle or two of red wine


Plastic box big enough to take beef. Make sure it has a lid
Butchers’ hooks and string


Trim the outside of the meat and remove any fat and sinews.

Put the rosemary, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and orange peel in a spice grinder or in a pestle and mortar. Grind them up. Add to the salt and sugar and mix well.  This is the cure mix.

Sprinkle a layer of the cure mix in the base of the plastic box. Lay the meat on to the cure mix. Sprinkle more cure mix over the meat and rub in. Keep any left over cure mix. Put the lid on the box and put the box in the fridge. Leave for 24 hours.

Beef for bresaola after 24 hours in the cure

Beef for bresaola after 24 hours in the cure

Remove the box from the fridge. Remove the meat. It should have started to darken and should be slightly firmer. Scrape the damp cure mix off the meat and discard. Scrape the used cure mix out of the box and, again, discard. Add fresh cure mix to the box. Add the meat but turning it over this time. Again, add more cure mix to the meat and rub in. Again, leave for 24 hours. Repeat twice more, so that the beef will have cured for 4 days (around 96 hours). If there isn’t enough cure mix then make up some more.

Scrape the cure off the meat and clean out the box. Put the meat back into the box and cover with red wine. Put the lid on. Leave it in the fridge for 5 days. Once a day carefully take the meat out of the wine, turn it over and put it back in again.

Then take the meat out of the wine and pat it dry. Use an old but clean towel for this. It will get very stained.

Tie the meat with string so that it hangs vertically. Hang it somewhere draughty. I hang mine in the porch over the back door. I have a net bag to keep the flies off the meat. They are fairly difficult to find on the internet and so I import big net bags with rings in from France – try googling “sac a jambon” or “sac a jambon mural”. The rings do a great job of keeping the net bag away from the meat.

Bresaola hanging in the sac a jambon mural

Bresaola hanging in the sac a jambon mural

I left my bresaola hanging for about a week or so and then sliced it as thinly as I could with a slicing machine that I bought from eBay. It’s difficult to judge how long to leave it outside for as it’s dependant on the weather. Cool and damp weather will mean that the meat will lose moisture slower than warm and dry weather.

Thinly sliced bresaola

One of the first slices of bresaola

Ideally it should be paper thin and it should be possible to see the light through it. I then vacuum packed the bresaola.

Vacuum packed bresaola

Vacuum packed bresaola

Vacuum packed bresaola

Vacuum packed bresaola with the light shining through

This recipe for making bresaola is adapted from the River Cottage guide to Curing and Smoking. If you approve of Amazon, here is the link. It’s an awesome book and explains concepts simply and clearly.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Robert Eason July 19, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    …Tasted a sample of Nico Wilsons Home made Bresaola today!

    The dedication & hard work which went into the product was clearly of a high standard.

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