What Is Bresaola And What Does It Taste Like?

Have you ever heard of bresaola? This Italian cured meat wasn't imported into the U.S. from the 1930s to 2000, so it's less well known in the states than prosciutto, for example (via The Spruce Eats). Bresaola is leaner and milder than prosciutto and is made from beef rather than pork. While the Spruce Eats points out that several cuts of beef can be used, The Guardian recommends the main muscle in the top round for its leanness.

What does bresaola taste like? Thanks to the curing process, the meat flavor will be prominent. The Spruce Eats also describes the flavor as delicate and aromatic. Bresaola is rubbed with salt and spices before curing, so it will taste salty, of course, and will reflect the various spices used. The Guardian says rosemary and juniper are traditional. The Spruce Eats adds black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and garlic to the list. Different bresaola makers use different spices, which makes for some variation in the taste. While beef bresaola is typical, its flavor profile will change accordingly if it's made with pork, venison, or horse. Venison and horse, not commonly found outside Italy, will have a gamier flavor. 

What foods go well with bresaola?

Given the richness and complexity of bresaola's flavor, there's nothing wrong with serving it as is. Traditionally, you'll find bresaola accented with a drizzle of olive oil or a squeeze of fresh lemon, plus salt and pepper, per Salumeria ItalianaThe Italian Chef recommends serving it with arugula and shaved Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Bresaola can top focaccia bread or pizza, according to The Spruce Eats, and it goes well on an antipasto plate alongside cheeses, olives, and nuts. A little bresaola goes a long way, too. A single serving is one ounce, and it should be cut thinly enough to cover a 10-inch plate. 

As cured meats go, bresaola is healthier than some because of its leanness. It still contains a lot of salt, however. The most common variety of bresaola, made from beef, brings that meat's health benefits — a lot of B vitamins, zinc, iron, and protein, per The Spruce Eats.

Look for bresaola either at an Italian deli or online. If you want to do it yourself, The Guardian recommends bresaola as a good starter charcuterie item because it's relatively easy to make. Just know that between the marinating and the air drying, your bresaola won't be ready for more than a month.