A Bresaola Recipe (And the Wines That Go With This Classic Italian Meat)

If there’s one thing that Italians know, it’s meat.

Well, okay. There are a lot of things that Italians do better than anybody else. From fashion to wine to food, Italy is a leader in so many industries.

But the true joy of exploring Italian culture often lies in finding the many amazing delicacies that you can add to your list of favourite foods. Of course, you already know the standards, like pasta and pizza. However, this article will focus on something that you may never have heard of before…


In this article, we’re going to look at what this gorgeous food is, how you can make it, and the types of Italian wine that you need to drink alongside it.

What is Bresaola?

Bresaola is typically a type of salted beef, though it can also be made using ham, venison, or even horse. It’s air-dried and involves an ageing process that’s very similar to the one used to make Italian wine. In this case, the meat gets sliced into strips and left to dry in the air for about two or three months. This causes the meat to harden and go a reddish-purple colour.

This process also causes the meat to take on a sweet and almost musty aroma. 

It’s a lean and tender dish that’s completely different from eating meat that’s prepared and cooked in the traditional fashion. And much like many classic Italian dishes, it’s a speciality in a very specific region of the country. In this case, the region is a small valley called Valtellina. Located in the Lombardy region between the stunning Alps, this is the place to go to find the original Bresaola. 

Of course, many regions of the country have adopted the dish in the years since its creation. And now, you can too with the help of this recipe, courtesy of the wonderful people at Olive Magazine.

Let’s jump right in with…

The Ingredients

You won’t need a ton of ingredients for this dish. And much of the method goes into the curing process that you’ll use during the course of this recipe. Here’s what you’ll need to create enough Bresaola for several people.

  • About 900g of topside beef.
    • You should spend some time trimming all of the sinew and fat from the beef before using it. Remember that Bresaola is a lean type of meat, so fat and sinew take away from the flavour.
  • 100g of brown sugar.
  • 100g of sea salt.
  • A tablespoon of crushed juniper berries.
  • 4 sprigs worth of thyme leaves, which you should chop finely.
  • 5g of ground peppercorn.
  • 5g of Prague Powder No.2.
    • This is a type of curing salt that makes the whole process much easier.

Once you have everything gathered, you’re ready to start preparing. Making the dish is fairly simple, though it does require a pretty substantial time investment on your part. Let’s jump into…

Step 1

Make sure you’ve weighed all of the ingredients for the curing process correctly and put them all in a bowl. You don’t need to worry about the beef itself just yet. Mix the ingredients well and place half of it into a Tupperware container. You’ll need them later on but the other half gets used during the preparation process.

Step 2

Rub the other half od your cure mix all over the trimmed beef. Make sure to spread it as evenly as possible over the entire surface. 

Now, place the meat into a freezer bag with all of the mixture and seal it tight. This bag should go into a lipped dish, which will catch any juices that leak from it.

Place the bag in the fridge, where it will cool for a week. You’ll need to turn the bag over every day to make sure the cure mix spreads evenly.

Step 3

At the end of the week of waiting, remove the meat from the fridge and take it out of the bag. Use some kitchen paper to dry the meat and then spread the rest of your cure mix over the surface.

The meat then goes into a fresh freezer bag and back into the fridge for a week. Again, remember to turn it every day.

Step 4

Take the beef out of the bag and get rid of any juices that have collected in the bag. You’ll grab some more kitchen role to dry the meat off again. Then, tie a couple of pieces of butcher’s string around the length of the meat.

From there, tie knows into the string every 2cm to 3cm.

Grab some muslin and wrap it around the beef. Twist the ends like a Christmas cracker and use your string to seal them. One end should have a loop in the string so you can hang the meat.

Step 5

The goal here is to bring the beef down to a certain weight. You should have about 900g of meat, but you want a specific measurement here. The goal is to hang the beef long enough that it loses 30% of its weight. If you have a 900g joint, that means it should weight 630g by the time you’re finished.

Now, hang the meat somewhere cool where it won’t get exposed to sunlight or changing temperatures. From here, it’s a case of weighing it every couple of days until you hit the magic number. This can take up to a month.

Step 6

Unwrap the muslin and cut the strings off the beef. You should see a joint that looks dry, shrivelled, and dark. Now, use a sharp knife to slice the beef into super-thin slices. 

It’s ready to serve.

You can store any leftovers in a Tupperware container for about 2 weeks before they go off.

The Perfect Wine

You may assume that an Italian red wine is the perfect choice for this type of meat. However, the complexity of red wine will actually overpower the dish. The curing process brings an element of sweetness that risks getting lost with a red.

Instead, aim to combine the dish with a sweeter wine that complements it well. Something chilled or sparkling should do the job well here.

Of course, we have plenty of sweet wines for you to try out if you explore the Xtrawine store.



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