Spruce Tip Bresaola from Smoking Goose

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

Delicate dry-cured beef from Indiana

If you’re looking for a great new way to accent your eating, scope out this Spruce Tip Bresaola from the folks at Smoking Goose down in Indiana. Bresaola, if you aren’t familiar, is the centuries-old style of dry curing beef in northern Italy. It’s typically done with the thigh, brined and then long-cured until it’s the texture of dry-cured pork. It’s neither cooked nor smoked, so it really concentrates the natural flavors of the beef. Use it just as you would prosciutto. It’s super tasty. When I asked chef and co-managing partner Rodger Bowser about it the other day, he replied, “I ate like half a pound the other day in a single sitting!”

Smoking Goose founder and master meat curer Chris Eley originally learned to harvest the tips of wild spruce trees during a visit to Alaska. He now forages them locally to enhance the flavor of the beef. Spruce tips have a whole range of health benefits (high in vitamin C, help fight off coughs and congestion, etc.) and flavor (minty, piney, slightly citrusy). Like the First Flush Darjeeling tea, they’re taken from the first new growth of the trees each spring, so that the tips are both tender and tasty. Spruce tips are being used for distilling as well, and there are a host of other ways to cook with them.

Connor Valone, who worked hard to bring the Bresaola to the Deli shares:

Smoking Goose is doing everything right, all under one roof on Dorman Street in Indianapolis. I was lucky enough to tour their expansive facility, where absolutely everything is done by hand using traditional methods (I think you’d be hard-pressed to find another salumeria owner hand-foraging his own ingredients). Their Bresaola is so fresh and succulent, with faint marbling reminiscent of wide lightning strikes. It’s got a thin fat cap on the otherwise impeccably trimmed eye of round lends a subtle sweetness and luxurious melt-in-your-mouth texture, without any dryness or chew, each wave of flavor cascading more and more sweet umami across our palates. The crave-ability here is off the charts. I’m with Rodger here; you’re going to eat so much more of this than you think.

What do you do with Spruce Tip Bresaola? The easiest answer is, eat it! If you’re putting out appetizers, add some slices to the plate or cutting board and let folks snack on it. Lay it down on a plate and top it with some of the fresh arugula I wrote about last week, then dress it with a squeeze of lemon and a bit of good olive oil, salt, and pepper. For appetizers, it’s great rolled around bits of Parmigiano Reggiano and arugula or sprouts. Equally excellent rolled around the Creamery’s handmade cream cheese. And it’s terrific, in a surprisingly super tasty bit of unforgettable umami excellence with cream cheese and an anchovy in the middle. Great for open-faced sandwiches, too! Thinly sliced, a quarter pound goes a long way.