The latest challenge was for my very favourite swiss cured meat, bündnerfleisch. Unfortunately, bündnerfleisch requires pressing, which we are not equipped to do, so I had to find an achievable but similar recipe. The answer? Bresaola! Both are beef, cured in wine and then dried over a long period to get just the right taste and texture. I managed to find a recipe from the Gourmet Farmer (click here for the link) and so we set off!
The recipe starts off with 4 kilograms of beautiful topside beef...
...and an amazing array of ingredients for the cure:
The cure ingredients are all chopped and crushed and mixed in a bucket until they look something like this:
And then we added nearly 4 litres of red wine (!!) and left it in the fridge to cure for 8 days:
After the 8 days, the meat had totally changed. It was much harder, much darker and the smell was just fantastic.
We scraped off the errant juniper berries and peppercorns and rolled it up in cheesecloth, tied the ends and hung it up over a tray in the fridge in the garage at my parents' house. We decided at this point that if it came out well, we might think about investing in a wine cooler fridge to make more preserved meats!
The suspended meat bundles stayed in the fridge for 4 whole weeks. My brother said it smelled very strong for the first few days, but then the smell disappeared. At no time did it smell bad, or off, or rotting - I was very glad of this!
Then, the big day - the unravelling and tasting! It was incredible how the texture and colour of the meat had changed again. It was really hard and really dark, but there was no mold on it! I think my cheesecloths might take a bit of time to recover though...
We then washed the meat pieces, brushed them with vinegar to kill off any nasties, and rubbed them with olive oil to start softening up the outside crust.
And then, my absolute favourite part - the TASTING. We used our deli slicer to peel wafer thin slices off the chunk of beef.
And it was great. At least as good as my memories of bündnerfleisch in Switzerland and Germany. To be perfectly honest, I am trying not to drool just thinking about it...
We've wrapped the pieces in an airlock bag and stored them in the fridge. I hope there is some left for Christmas to take to the lake and share with lots of friends!