Bresaola

Bresaola is a salt-cured hunk of beef from the top round.

Before you even think it, no, this isn’t “chipped beef.” How dare you.

What Is It?

Bresaola is a truly beautiful thing: a salt-cured hunk of beef from the top round that's meticulously trimmed of fat and then allowed to air dry for months until firm and sliceable. As if that weren’t enough, the meat is rubbed with spices such as juniper and cinnamon before it rests, resulting in layers of darkly sweet, concentrated beef flavor that smells like it’s just emerged from the depths of your Italian nonna’s cellar.

What Do I Do With It?

First, you find it: Until 2000, Italian bresaola hadn't been imported to the U.S. since 1930 due to a tariff act allowing only cooked beef products from Italy. For that reason, it’s a lesser-known cured meat than prosciutto or soppressata, and it’s not always hanging out in your supermarket. Call your nearest Italian meat market or head to the internet, but always buy from a reputable source, or you’re not going to be experiencing the real thing. Once you have it in hand, serve it – always sliced paper-thin – with hot-from-the-oven focaccia drizzled with a little olive oil and lemon juice, or twirl it into a simply-sauced pasta. I like it with a little pesto sauce or sitting on top of cacio e pepe.

Find this Italian specialty locally from St. Louis-based Volpi Foods.

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Shannon Weber is the creator, author and photographer behind the award-winning blogaperiodictableblog.com, and her work has appeared on websites such as Bon Appétit, Serious Eats and America’s Test Kitchen.

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