I’ve been facinated with charcuterie for years (mostly because it’s tasty) and I got given a copy of Curing & Smoking: River Cottage Handbook No.13 last year, so I bit the bullet and prepared to ruin a lot of very expensive ingrediants. It was a bit of a scary journey, had a bit of a wobble in the middle, but came out ok. As per always it was typically low tech and badly planned and thankfully came out ok.

You will need

(You should probably follow a better guide or buy a book)

  • A chunk of suitable beef, I used a chunk of G&S Organics topside.
  • Most of a bottle of red wine
  • Peel of a lemon
  • Peel of an orange
  • A teaspoon of cloves
  • 2 teaspoons of black papercorns
  • A couple of fat cloves of garlic
  • A big sprig of rosemary
  • A good pitch of chilli flakes
  • Butchers twine (I actually bought some in the name of hygine)
  • Good quality salt

Do (this takes 6 weeks or so)

  • Wash, dry and trim the beef of any fat. You can see in one photo I managed to miss a clump of fat in one bottom corner.
  • Weight out the right amount of salt (check a book, I think I needed 80g for a 1.5kg chunk of beef)
  • In a tubberware box with a tight fitting lid mix all the dry ingrediants
  • Pop the beef in and shake it about so the beef is well covered
  • Pop it in the fridge for a week, turning every day
  • After a week the beef will had leached some liquid and smell amazing. No not panic
  • You need to cover the beef in wine for a week. To reduce the amount of wine needed I stuck everything in a ziplock and squeezed all the air out. It still needed most of a bottle of decent red.
  • Leave it for week. Turn every couple of days
  • Drain the beef. It’ll smell even more amazing.
  • Tie the meat up with string. Use a book. Find a diagram. I just did a loop round the middle.
  • Hang it up somewhere drafty
  • Go away with work for a month
  • Come back and find it’s gone very mouldy.
  • Post photos to reddit and twitter
  • Ignore all of their sensible advice
  • Read the pages about mold in Curing & Smoking again and again.
  • Decide you can always chuck it later
  • Clean off the mold with red wine vinegar and a new toothbrush
  • Hang it up for another week
  • Check it smells ok. Sweet, very slightly musty
  • Trim the very tough outside
  • Finely slice (I used a breadknife)
  • Use the sniff test again. Nothing sour, mouldy or dangerous smelling
  • Try some. It was delicious
  • Put it all in an airtight zip lock bagP
  • Wait 36 hours to convince yourself it’s not bad.
  • Marval at the result

Result

Great taste, witht he spice and the wine coming though. It was a bit over dried and tough. I was worried the the outside had dried too quickly and the middle was going to have rotten (case hardening I think this is called), but I seemed to have dodged that bullet.

I’ll certainly be doing it again, probably with a bigger chunk of meat and a bit more care.

Ingrediants Ready for the beef After a week After a week in wine Ready to be hung After a month.  I was scared After a month.  I was even more scared After another week and some cleaning The first cut Ready to be eaten (drip of redwine vinegar on it) Ready for the fridge