Bresaola in the USA – Be careful!

Bresaola is a great product of the mountains of Lombardia, of the province of Sondrio. Here you find a description.

Original Bresaola della Valtellina is NOT available in the USA. Outdated regulations still prevent its importation from the province of Sondrio, Italy, where it is made and perfected.

Even in this case, you can find very good bresaola, made in Uruguay, or with meat from Uruguay, usually by mountain pastors that emigrated from Valtellina to South America several decades ago searching for better pastures to breed cows and settled in Uruguay and Brazil.

They are now providing beef meat to the Italian manufacturers of bresaola in Sondrio and manufacture their bresaola.

Where and how to buy bresaola in the USA

Bresaola is available in specialty Italian stores, and they slice it for you when you buy it. Be careful: it’s not a product in high demand and could be sitting for months on the shelves, making its taste bitter.

A better choice is buying a pre-packaged confection such as the one sold by Citterio and available at the store or online at Wegmans, among other chain stores. Experienced people do the slicing at a central location, and the packaging is in a nitrogen neutralized atmosphere that guarantees freshness until you open the package. One of the problems with small stores slicing the whole product for you – being bresaola, prosciutto, or salami, is that in the USA, there are few store clerks able to cut the products properly. So other companies prepare and sell bresaola in a similar way.

Should you be ordering online from Wegmans, be careful to specify “no substitutes” in your order for bresaola. Once I did not, I received a lower quality anonymous product, not wrong, but not as good as the original I expected.

Other online sellers of presliced bresaola include Brooklyn Cured, Marky’s, and Gourmet Food Store. Unfortunately, I can’t testify about the quality of this bresaola because I never tasted them. Salumeria Italiana in Boston instead slices the bresaola for you at the moment when you place your order and ship it 2-day air in one-pound packages.

How to best enjoy bresaola in the USA

Bresaola is the best way to enjoy the taste of a beautiful extra virgin olive oil. Don’t spare on the quality of the oil you are using; exceptional flavors will reveal when you will eat a simple dish of bresaola with lemon and olive oil. I used Vicopisano Extra Virgin Olive Oil for the photo above; it’s available at a reasonable price in North America from Gustiamo.com.

The drying process in the cold air coming to Valtellina from Switzerland across the Alps

The drying process in mountain locations in Valtellina, generally at 1,000 meters high sites, is what makes generic bresaola “Bresaola della Valtellina.”

Bresaola produced elsewhere can be equally good, but it usually lacks the special taste.

Bresaola della Valtellina P.G.I. – The regulations governing its manufacturing

From 1996 the original Bresaola della Valtellina is a product guaranteed by the PGI community trademark, exclusively used by certified producers of Provincia di Sondrio that strictly follow the disciplinary code of production.
Consorzio di Tutela Bresaola della Valtellina guarantees the origin of this tasteful product, promotes the original trademark, and protects it from imitations and falsifications.

Production Regulations for the “Bresaola della Valtellina” Protected Geographical Indication.

Art. 3 | Raw materials
“Bresaola della Valtellina” is produced exclusively from meat obtained from cattle between 18 months and four years of age. “Bresaola della Valtellina”, in its different cuts, is obtained starting from boneless bovine thighs and, more specifically, from the following meat cuts and muscles:

  •  Topside
    which corresponds to the posteromedial portion of the thigh muscles and includes the internal rectus, the adductor, and semimembranosus muscles;
  •  Topside Without Cap
    which corresponds to the topside without the adductor muscle;
  • Silverside
    which corresponds to the posterolateral portion of the thigh, the muscle involved is the vastus longuus;
  • Eye round
    which corresponds to the posterolateral portion of the thigh muscles, the muscle involved is the semitendinosus muscle;
  • Knuckle
    which corresponds to the front of the thigh and is composed of the rectus, the vastus medialis, and vastus intermedius muscles.

Only top-quality, safe and controlled meat, chosen all around the world as an excellent product

For Bresaola della Valtellina PGI, certified producers select and use the best bovine meat, a top-quality choice that makes it a unique product in the world and one of the Italian excellence products. Credit goes to the experience acquired over a centuries-old tradition and to the safety guaranteed by the PGI Regulations.

Only top-category cuts are used for the production of Bresaola della Valtellina PGI. The selected cuts are highly valuable and tender, and they are only cut from the beef round of selected breeds of cattle – preferably free-range cattle fed with selected feeds – of 18 months to 4 years of age, as outlined in the Regulations (therefore excluding cow meat, which is dark and does not reach the required level of consistency).

It is a top-quality choice because all these factors – cattle breed and age, breeding system and feeds, choice of high-value cuts of the beef round (such as topside without cup) – contribute to ensuring better meat, both in terms of organoleptic characteristics (e.g. for consistency, tenderness, taste, color, leanness, and absence of nerves), and of nutritional properties (e.g. for a lower fat content).

Producers joining the Consortium mainly use meat from European and South American farms, where breeding systems and supervision of all phases of the supply chain guarantee a raw material that meets the high-quality standards required for the production of Bresaola della Valtellina PGI. The best bovine breeds are used to obtain lean and high-consistency cuts according to the Regulations and the centuries-old tradition. Among European breeds, we favor Charolaise, Limousine, Blonde d’Aquitaine and Garonnesi. Among Italian breeds, the Piedmontese.
Pure zebu breeds come from South America. Among them, the Zebu Nellore is outstanding for its very lean meat. As a result, it is the most common breed in large Brazilian farms. But, then, there are the Zebu Guzerat and the Brahman, accounting for a minimum of South American cattle.

PGI is the guarantee of a product that is controlled and verified throughout its processing. During the processing of Bresaola della Valtellina PGI, numerous checks are performed on the various steps of the supply chain to guarantee consumers a safe and top-quality product. Furthermore, a third-party inspection body verifies compliance with the Production Regulations (CSQA Certificazioni), authorized by the Ministry of Agricultural, Food, and Forestry Policies. Therefore, when we taste Bresaola della Valtellina PGI, we know that it is the result of the best choice of raw materials, guaranteed by full traceability of the production chain and a processing protocol approved by the supervisory authority. Furthermore, its implementation is verified by a third-party certification body.

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Enrico Massetti was born in Milan, Italy.
Now he lives in Washington, DC, USA.
Still, he regularly visits his hometown
and enjoys going around all the places in his home country
especially those he can reach by public transportation.

Enrico loves writing guide books on travel in Italy
to help his friends that go to Italy to visit
and enjoy his old home country.
He also publishes books on the Argentine tango dance.

You can reach Enrico at enricomassetti@msn.com.