We’re at the Rare & Traditional Breeds Show at the fantastic Weald & Downland Museum on Sunday 14 July 2019 from 10.00am – 4.30pm.
This event celebrates a taste for quality over factory farmed, intensively raised meat products.
The Weald and Downland Living Museum is a charity that works to preserve our rural heritage, and rare breeds are an important part of this.
When we launched Sussex Gourmand in 2016, our aim was to represent the glorious Sussex countryside in the artisan products we make. And focusing on Sussex native breeds, naturally reared meat and high animal welfare standards was a vital component.
Sussex cattle farming has a great heritage, dating back to the eighteenth century when it was described in a Board of Agriculture survey of as “unquestionably ranked among the best of the kingdom.” Grazing maintains the South Downs landscape and wildlife, making Sussex beef a really good choice of meat. According to the Sussex Cattle Society, the Sussex Breed of today is descended directly from the red cattle that inhabited the dense forests of the Weald at the time of the Norman Conquest.
There’s a great article in a recent newsletter from our Sussex beef supplier, Barfields, which explains what makes grass-fed dry-aged beef such a good product.
We all know there’s no better way to create top quality, artisan foods than starting with the very best ingredients. An this philosophy runs through every stage of our bresaola-making process.
So how do we make our Sussex beef bresaola?
We start with excellent beef from Barfields and first cure it in a mix of salts, spices and home grown herbs, with a foraged berry added to reflect the environment on which the cattle are raised.
We then rinse off the cure, when the salt has done its job of drawing out moisture and the herbs and spices have added flavour. After drying the meat, we brush it with local gin, to add flavour and maintain the quality of the meat during the following stages. (We’ve had both our Sussex beef bresaola and Sussex wild venison bresaola tested for quality at a laboratory.)
Next, we rub the meat with home grown rosemary, juniper and black pepper and then lightly cold-smoke the beef to impart more flavour.
The final stage is air-drying the meat in a curing chamber, at the perfect temperature and the right humidity.
A deep burgundy-coloured bresaola with a creamy finish. Here’s what the Great Taste judges said in 2017 when we won a one star award:
“Extremely well-judged spicing; bold but not so much as to overpower the beef. The herby aroma is really appealing… lots of smells of the countryside.”
Compare this to the supermarket version, which looks (and tastes) like a plastic copy of the real thing. Well actually, there is no comparison.
But, just to demonstrate the difference, we did a taste test live on BBC Radio in 2018 at the Local Food Britain Countryside Food Festival. Presenter Mark Carter found the supermarket bresaola salty and flavourless, whereas the artisan bresaola packed a flavourful punch.
Mark went on to try the beef bresaola canapé, which sits on a parmesan and nigella seed thin, with rocket pesto. “Wow…. that is GORGEOUS!” he said. Say no more.