What is Bresaola: origin, nutritional values and more

Some say the term bresaola derives from “brasa”, embers, indicating the charcoal braziers which were once used to heat and dry the seasoning rooms, others believe the etymology is related to “brisa”, in dialect “salty”, in a clear reference to salting.

Still, according to a more complex theory, the word would be composed of “bri” referable to the Indo-European root indicating the deer, and “salt”.

In any case, references to an ancient preservation technique are evident in the name. Bresaola, a mountain product, has probably been around since the Middle Ages.

How bresaola is made

Bresaola is traditionally prepared in some areas of the Alps: the altitude plays an important role in the production, ensuring a climatic balance without excess humidity that allows the correct seasoning of the meat.

Valtellina, where Bresaola is produced under the protection of the IGP trademark, and Val d’Ossola in Piedmont are the most popular areas. Although Bresaola della Valtellina IGP is prepared exclusively with selected cuts of beef, it is also possible to find horse bresaola and, in some areas of Valchiavenna, deer bresaola.

The IGP disciplinary requires the use of noble cuts of beef: the rump, the undercut, the “magatello”, the “sottosso” and the “punta d’anca”, the most valuable. According to the same regulations, the meat, deprived of fat and tendons, must be dry salted, alternating layers of meat with layers of tanning, made up of salt, pepper, red wine, sugar and spices.

The pieces are often turned and massaged. After a period of rest and drying, the sausages are stuffed into natural or artificial casings. Finally, the seasoning, at least one month, in ventilated rooms at a controlled temperature. However, horse bresaola is salted by being marinated in a brine of wine, pepper, cinnamon, garlic, and other aromas.

Calories and nutritional values

Bresaola is certainly the leanest of all cured meats. A supremacy that is guaranteed by a fat content of about 2 percent of the total weight.

Two grams every one hundred grams, therefore, of which 0.72 g of saturated fats, 0.69 g of monounsaturated fats, 0.40 g of polyunsaturated fats and 63 mg of cholesterol. Moreover, bresaola is a high protein food: 100 grams of this salami provide an average of 33 grams of proteins of high biological value, easily digestible and assimilable.

The caloric intake is equal to 151 calories every 100 grams, considering Bresaola della Valtellina IGP: a very low intake, especially when compared to the one provided by other cold cuts.

It should not be forgotten that this cured meat has the highest concentration of iron (about 2.6 grams per 100 grams of product), and it is rich in other precious elements, such as niacin, vitamin b12 and vitamin b6, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium. The value of iron becomes even higher when considering horse bresaola.

All this is the result of the peculiarity of bresaola, produced, unlike other cold cuts, from lean cuts of beef or horse, and preserved by adding herbs or spices, which give a typical aroma and a full flavor without overpowering the product nutritionally wise.

Bresaola can therefore rightly be considered as a “low-fat” food, suitable for even the most particular diets.

A perfect balance: bresaola and diet

The nutritional characteristics of bresaola make it particularly suitable for those who are looking for a good intake of proteins with a reduced content of fats: for sportspeople, and for all those who do intense physical activity, and also for children and young people who, growing up, need proteins and iron.

The quantity of iron makes it precious for those who have the problem of anemia. And if its high satiating power makes it suitable for those who want to lose weight, it is still its content of noble proteins to make bresaola an ingredient to be included in the diet plan of over 65.

Suitable for all ages, and in any balanced diet, therefore, bresaola must be accompanied, to obtain a balance, with extra virgin olive oil, vegetables and fruit, but also by bread, rice, cereals and pasta. The best combination in terms of taste.

Bresaola on the table, full of flavor

Dark red color, bright and uniform, sometimes with some light streaks of white fat. Fragrant, characterized by a delicate and gentle flavor, soft in the mouth. Bresaola is served in thin slices, alone or seasoned with a little oil and lemon juice.

Other classic combinations are with grana cheese in flakes, robiola or fresh goat cheese, or, according to mountain tradition, with rye bread spread with a veil of fresh butter.

If you add fresh seasonal vegetables, a touch of fruit, either fresh or dried, you have all the ingredients to prepare really tasty and appetizing dishes: salads, rolls, sandwiches, canapés, carpaccio… bresaola immediately conveys the idea of fresh dishes, balanced in taste as well as in nutritional intake.

Recipes with Bresaola

Salad of bresaola, peaches, rocket, feta, and walnuts

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 100gr of bresaola
  • 60gr of rocket
  • 3 hard ripe peaches
  • 50gr of feta cheese
  • A handful of walnuts
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Preparation

  1. Wash and dry the rocket well with the help of a clean cloth. Arrange it on a serving plate.
  2. Wash and cut the peaches into thin slices (no need to remove the skin). Lay them on the arugula and add a pinch of salt.
  3. With the slices of bresaola, create small rosettes or mini baskets and insert them between the slices of peaches, arranging them in the serving dish.
  4. Sprinkle with coarsely crumbled or diced feta cheese. Finish with the walnuts, a drizzle of oil and possibly a pinch of salt.

Tigelle with stracchino cheese, bresaola and zucchini spaghetti

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 8 tigelle
  • 150gr bresaola
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 100gr of stracchino
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Lemon

Preparation

  1. Start by preparing the zucchini noodles. Wash the vegetables well and remove the ends. With the help of the special tool, create the spaghetti and, once ready, place them in a bowl and season with oil and salt.
  2. Heat the tigelle on a hot pan and cut them in half.
  3. Stuff them with the stracchino and zucchini noodles. Add the bresaola slices and season with a few drops of lemon.
  4. Close the tigelle and serve while still warm.

Corn tacos with hummus, bresaola and feta cheese

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 150gr of bresaola
  • 100gr of feta cheese
  • 60gr of rocket
  • 4 corn tacos (or corn piadine)
  • 1 package of hummus
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Lemon

Procedure

  1. Wash and dry the rocket; set aside.
  2. Crumble the feta coarsely and season with a drizzle of oil.
  3. Heat corn tacos (or piadine) on a hot skillet for two minutes per side.
  4. Spread the hummus first, then add a few rocket leaves and the bresaola slices. Season with lemon to taste and finish with crumbled feta.
  5. Close the tacos and enjoy.

Conclusion on the origin of Bresaola

When you learn to know food, you learn to appreciate it and use it in the best possible way. Now that we have learned (almost) everything about bresaola, we can give free rein to our imagination in preparing simple and delicious recipes.

A supply of this cured meat in the refrigerator is a precious ally for creating appetizing dishes in just a few steps. And even on its own, served at room temperature with a few drops of oil and some good bread, bresaola is always a crowd-pleaser.

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