Bresaola and bündnerfleisch are cured and dried beef, from Italy and Switzerland respectively. Like Parma ham, they need to be sliced paper-thin and this can prove more difficult than any other part of the preparation. A kind word to your local butcher or delicatessen at slicing time is the answer.

This recipe comes from Franco Taruschio at the Walnut Tree Inn in Wales and I have used it for years. For a while saltpetre was awkward to obtain because it was an ingredient in explosives as well as ham brines, but you should be able to purchase it from chemists.


  • 2kg (4lb 8oz) beef topside

    For the Brine

  • ½ bottle red wine
  • 450g (1 lb/1⅔ cups) salt
  • 200g (7 oz/ cup) carrots, sliced
  • 100 g ( oz/½ cup packed) brown sugar
  • 6 chillies
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon crushed juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon saltpetre
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 sprig thyme

    To Serve

  • shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • olive oil
  • black pepper


Combine all the ingredients for the brine in a large saucepan with 600ml (1 pint 2fl oz/23/4 cups) of water. Bring to the boil, then set aside to cool.

Put the meat in a bucket or a deep tray and pour on the brine. Leave this to marinate for 4 days in a cool place or in the fridge.

Lift the meat from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Wrap it in cheesecloth and hang in a dry, warm place for two weeks or until the meat is quite firm when pressed.

The meat won’t look pretty at this point, like something from King Tut’s tomb, but cut away the dried outside layer and you will be left with a deep purple block. This is the bresaola.

Slice the meat thinly – a shop slicing machine is ideal – then dress with shavings of Parmesan, black pepper and olive oil.


Instead of the Parmigiano Reggiano, some cooked vegetable salad in vinaigrette will also fit the bill and contrast nicely with the texture of the meat.