So it’s no secret that I enjoy experimenting with different types of charcuterie, and particularly with whole muscle cures. I have previously made Bresaola with beef, venison, camel, buffalo, wallaby, kangaroo, duck, goose and even alpaca. Before each of my cures I do a considerable amount of research regarding recipes, cures, seasoning ratios and the possible risks involved in differing methods. I have also gained a lot of useful information from trading tips and receiving advice from other hobbyists.
Even though I have made Turkey Bresaola before with great results, I still get a lot of negative responses from people who seem to believe that working with white meat and poultry is a guaranteed way to get salmonella poisoning. I understand where this attitude originates, however I can say that through my experience of working with white meat for cures and following the hygienic and preparatory principles of charcuterie, I have never ended up with anything but safe products. It is also worth mentioning that my pork cures, despite being close to poultry as a white meat, never receive this negative feedback. The perception of turkey or other poultry being categorically unsafe is one based more in a lack of knowledge or bad experiences resulting from improper research and hygiene standards.
The end result of charcuterie is a product that is neither raw nor uncooked. By doing the proper research into these products and utilizing the essential ingredients (such as insta-cure #2, to prevent botulism poisoning) in conjunction with good hygiene practices, you too can enjoy the delights of Turkey Bresaola. As always, practice good judgement in the selection and preparation of your ingredients and document the process for each step along the way.
Back to the actual recipe! Bresaola di Tacchino, or Turkey Bresaola is not as common as all the other cured meat products in terms of availability. I initially struggled to find recipes and information on how to make it. That being said, the information and recipes that I have found highlight the fact that using turkey is nice alternative to red meat cures and has the added benefit of being a healthy option. Turkey Bresaola is considered a delicacy and a specialty item. If you are looking for something slightly different to cure or perhaps something that is kosher or halal, then this is the recipe for you. You wont be disappointed!
1.3kg Fresh organic turkey breast, excess fat trimmed (100%)
39g Sea salt flakes (3%)
3.25g Instacure #2 (0.25%)
32.50g Raw sugar (2.5%)
6g Five Peppercorn Mélange (0.5%) – toasted and ground
4g Szechuan pepper (0.3%) – toasted and ground
4-6 juniper berries – toasted and ground
5g Thyme (0.4%) (fresh or dried)
4g chili flakes (0.3%) (fresh or dried)
4g Rosemary (0.3%) (fresh or dried)
3g Oregano (0.25%) (fresh or dried
3g sage (0.25%) (fresh or dried)
3 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
(makes approx. 845g finished product @ 35% weight loss).
Note – The ingredients used are shown as a percentage of the starting weight of the meat. I’ve noted the percentage next to each, so you can adjust what you will need based on the weight of your meat.
For the aromatics and herbs you don’t have to use from the listed above ingredients, you can just use what you have available in your garden at the time.
As always when working with food, make sure you have a nice clean work area. You don’t want to be getting anyone sick.
Using paper towel, pat dry the meat and tidy it up by removing any excess skin and sinew.
Next step is to toast your mixed peppercorns, Szechuan peppers and juniper berries; I have been doing this a lot more lately. Toasting your peppercorns and berries is key as this process releases their fragrance and improves the aromatics of the cure. This is a simple process that you can do in a few minutes. Just put your whole peppercorns and berries in a flat-bottomed frying pan over medium to high heat for 3-5 minutes until you can smell the dark, peppery aroma. The key here is moderation – it’s very easy to burn the spices (as I’ve done it before). Watch the peppercorns and berries as you toast them and take them of the heat and out of the pan as soon as they begin to release their fragrance. If they burn, toss it out and start over. There’s no sense in ruining a perfect piece of meat with burnt peppercorns and berries. From time to time stir the peppercorns and berries to prevent them from burning.
Grind up the peppercorns and berries in a spice grinder or a mortar and pestle.
Weigh out the remaining ingredients then combine and grind them in a mortar and pestle or spice mill, stir in the peppers and juniper berries. The cure will be very fragrant.
Rub the cure and seasonings into the meat; massage in the seasoning mix, making sure you don’t miss any cuts or folds. Ensure that the cure is evenly distributed. I usually spend about a minute or two on this.
Place the meat and seasoning mix (including anything that may have fallen off after massaging) into a large zip-lock bag. Make sure to squeeze all of the air out and then seal the bag. Refrigerate for 7-14 days (depending on size/weight of meat) flipping every 2-3 days and evenly redistributing the cure.
The meat is ready when it feels firm. Remove the meat from the zip-lock bag and gently rinse under cold water to remove any excess seasoning mix – you may still have some herbs left stuck to the meat which is fine.
Pat dry with paper towel and leave uncovered for 2-3 hours to rest on a baking rack on a counter at room temperature.
Weigh your meat and record the weight and shape the meat with butchers string if desired. Wrap the meat in muslin/cheese cloth and hang it for around 4-6 weeks, or until you have reached a minimum of 30% weight loss. Recently I have been trying to cure my meats to achieve 35% weight loss, this will generally take a few weeks longer depending on the fat content of the meat and the temperature and humidity conditions in your area. But the finished result flavour is even more developed and concentrated. Check the meat every week to monitor weight loss and wipe of any mold that is not white using paper towel dipped in red wine vinegar or brandy.
The bresaola should be firm to touch when ready. Now the most important part is the slice in half and do a taste test!