Foodie Guide to Bresaola
Ask any Italian you know what they would eat if they went on a diet after the heavy Christmas holiday meals with panettoni, torroni, pandori, chocolate etc. and I could bet anything you want that bresaola would be listed in their perfect Italian diet menu.
The "real" and best bresaola is produced in Valtellina, an area of about 200 km in the centre of the Alps, in northern Lombardy, between Italy and Switzerland.
Bresaola della Valtellina is a top quality cured meat obtained from the best cuts of beef hindquarters. Very low in fats and rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals, it is usually recommended by Italian dietologists to health-conscious people who wish to follow a balanced and healthy diet.
First literary evidences of Bresaola go back to the 15th century, but its origin is certainly older. Until the early 17th century its production was limited to family consumption and only during the 19th century it increased strongly, with producers starting to export
towards near Switzerland and other Italian regions. Today, Bresaola is widespread all over Italy and it's conquering new foreign markets.
The ancient traditional production methods which were handed down from one generation to the next one, have been improved over the years so that today Bresaola is smoother, softer and more delicate than ever. The various steps of the process have been clearly defined and turnded into regulations that are meticulously followed by local producers. Although, each one of them keeps his own secrets that make his specific product recognizable among the others, they all respect officially recognised requirements to obtain the IGP label (Indicazione Geografica Protetta which means “protected geographical indication”). On this respect, in order to fully implement EU's recognition, in 1998 bresaola's producers founded a Consortium aimed to protect the origin of this distinctive product, to promote its image and to defend it from all falsifications.
Bresaola della Valtellina is also an ideal ingredient for quick, light snacks and is often used in haute cuisine for preparing imaginative and refined dishes. The simplest way to prepare it is just with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, oregano, black pepper and then served, possibly, with whole grain bread. It is often served with rocket and Parmesan cheese shavings, or turned into involtini stuffed with caprino cheese and herbs. A simple Italian way to have delicious food even when you are trying to watch the calories.