Let’s make basturma (pastirma). This Charcuterie comes all the way from the Middle East. Countries like Turkey, Iraq, Egypt, and Armenia (just to name a few) all have their own unique versions of this delicious cured beef that’s hung to air dry. Regardless of where you find it this air dried cured meat is heavily spiced and absolutely delicious.
In today’s recipe We are going to mix it up a little and break from tradition using some modern techniques and appliances that we have available to use. With that being said I will tell you that traditional basturma is generally made in the winter time where it’s cured with salt and hung to dry in an open area till it’s firm. Then a spice coating called “chaman” is placed around the dried beef and rehung till the coating has completely dried.
This often produces a basturma that is very salty, dries unevenly, with a texture that is firm and chewy. This recipe will show you how to avoid those inconsistencies and make a perfectly seasoned cured beef that dries evenly to produce a velvety bite with the perfect texture.
First and foremost we will be addressing the meat and the seasonings. Traditional basturma uses the eye of round cut. This is a great lean cut for curing and drying but I personally find the eye of round a little chewy so we will be using the filet mignon for this project. What I typically do is trim the filet to get rid of any silver skin and cut away any loose flaps of meat that might be hanging off the muscle. If you want to trim off the fat you can do that as well. I like to leave the fat on.. Once finished it’s time to cure the meat.
Curing the meat isn’t a complicated process. We will be using a technique called the equilibrium cure. What this means is that 100% of the cure mix that we will be adding will be used in curing the meat. This method allows us to perfectly season/cure our meat without any concern of over/under salting. What’s also great about this technique is that you can work at your own pace (meaning if you can’t get to the meat immediately and it needs to sit in the fridge a few more days you don’t need to worry about it becoming too salty). This is contrary to the alternative method called “Salt Boxing”. Salt boxing simply means you take a bunch of salt and encase your meat in it. We can talk about the 2 techniques in a different post.
Once our meat has been cured we begin the process of drying. Bastura essentially goes through 2 different drying processes. During the first drying phase we will be regulating the drying by covering our meat in a collagen sheet from the Sausage Maker. These sheets are just like your sausage casings but in a sheet form. They have micro perforations that allow your meat to dry at a slower rate which will allow the meat to really develop it’s flavor while keeping a soft and tender texture. These sheets are fairly large and should be cut to size.
Finally the drying chamber. Unlike traditional methods of making basturma we will be using a drying chamber in this recipe. Drying chambers are not very difficult to build and once you have one you can make all sorts of neat stuff like salami, cheese, wine, and the list goes on. To see the one I built you can check out my post: Building a salami chamber/cheese cave. My drying chamber is regulated to maintain a temperature of 55F and 80% humidity. This is going to be a great place to slowly dry our meat nice and evenly.
I hope you enjoy this week’s video and recipe. If you give this a go be sure to let me know how your came out and if you have any questions ask away in the comment section below.
Here are a few things you might find useful when making this recipe
- Collagen Sheets
- #16 Netting for whole muscles
- Iodophor Sanitizer
- Chef Knife – KOTAI
- Sausage Pricker
- Iwatani Professional Chef Torch
- Insta Cure #1
- InkBird Controllers temp & Humidity
- Dehumidifier Eva Dry 1100
- Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
Enjoy the video and the recipe. If you have any questions feel free to ask away. If you make this at home I’d love to hear about how it came out!!
If you want to see the different things that we use in operation our be sure to check out our new Amazon Store.