A little River Cottage magic for Christmas
When I visited River Cottage last month chef Andy showed us how to make venison bresaola and it immediately went on my Christmas to do list. Bresaola, red wine marinated and air dried meat, is usually made with beef, but using venison just made it seem more luxurious and more of a treat.
First thing first, I needed to find some venison; specifically the silverside of the haunch. I could have bought it online but I decided to see if one of my local butchers could help me.
Cook and Foragers in Wigan breed their own saddleback pigs and source ethically farmed meat from the region. So owner Jack found me some venison from Cheshire. It’s a great cut just under a kilogram so I asked him to cut it in half so I’ve got two pieces to work with.
Before you air dry the meat you need to marinade it in red wine and aromatics for five days. Make sure that you measure the amount of wine and then add 3% salt to help preserve the meat.
I promised myself and my road trip pals a how to video of the process- but lost my voice the day I came to make it! So here’s the instructions in 60 seconds!
- Venison silverside - up to 1kg
- Red wine
- Sea salt
- Garlic x 2 cloves
- Bay leaves x 3
- Rosemary x small spring
- Juniper berries x 1 tsp
- Peppercorns x 1 tsp
- Day 1
- Put the meat in a non metal dish or food container
- Add red wine until just covered. You need to measure how much wine you use. I did it by pouring in on the scales but you could measure how much is left in your bottle
- Add 3% sea salt and stir to dissolve (eg 700ml wine = 21g salt)
- Gently crush the juniper, peppercorns and garlic and add with the the bay and rosemary to the wine
- Mix well, cover and refrigerate for 5 days
- 5 days later...
- Remove the meat from the marinade and dry it off. It's important that it is thoroughly dried, so use a couple of old tea towels. Wet meat will go mouldy
- Option 1- if you have a pantry, cold conservatory or water tight shed you could hang the meat from a hook off a beam or the ceiling. This is the traditional way of air drying meat.
- Option 2- if you me you're not blessed with a pantry and have cats who would hang off a piece of meat hung from the ceiling, you can use the fridge!
- Your meat needs air to circulate all around it so put a couple of things wooden kebab sticks on a plate and leave uncovered in the fridge. I used a net food cover just so nothing came in to contact with the raw meat
- Leave to dry out for up to ten days. When your meat is ready, slice thinly and enjoy!
You need 15 days to make this bresaola so start now and you’ll have a delicious centrepiece for your Christmas or new years buffet.
Have you tried to make your own bresaola or other charcuterie- how’d it go?