Basturma

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

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!!

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Basturma

Armenian Charcuterie
Prep Time3 hrs
drying/curing time28 d
Total Time28 d 3 hrs
How much does your whole muscle weigh? 1000 grams

Ingredients

Meat

  • 1000 g beef filet mignon

For the Cure

For the Chaman Spice Coating

Instructions

  • Trim your filet mignon so that you are left with a whole piece. No flaps or loose pieces should be on your muscle. Remove the silver skin and remove the fat if you want a leaner basturma
  • Weigh your filet mignon and enter the weight in grams in the "servings" section of this recipe.
  • Combine all of the "cure" ingredients and rub them onto your meat. Be sure to include 100% of all the cure spices. Place the meat in a bag and vacuum seal it (or a zip lock bag and remove as much air as possible).
  • Once your meat has been vac sealed place it in a tray with a heavy weight on top (to achieve a flattened look) Place this in your refrigerator for 5 days. Be sure to turn the meat daily.
  • After 5 days your beef has been cured and you can remove it from the fridge. Wash off any excess seasonings, liquid, and blot dry with a paper towel. You want the meat to be moist and tacky.
  • Place the cured beef onto a collagen sheet and wrap. Secure with elastic netting or butchers twine. Weigh the meat and record the weight.
  • Hang in a drying chamber that has a controlled temperature of 55F and a humidity of 80% till 25% of the weight has been lost.
  • After 25% weight has been lost it's time to prepare the spice coating. Combine all of the chaman (spice coating) ingredients in a bowl. Slowly add water till you achieve a paste like consistency.
  • Remove the casing from the cured beef and with a needle weave some butchers twine through the very top and tie a knot. This is how we will hang our bastura. Next spread a thin layer of the spice paste (β…› inch) all over your basturma. Try to keep the spice paste as evenly spread as possible.
  • Once finished dip your fingers in some water and smooth the spice paste then hang your basturma to finish drying back in a drying chamber set to 55F and 80% rH. In here it will hang till the spice paste had dried out and is no longer tacky. Once this happens your basturma is ready to eat!! Enjoy.

Equalizing the basturma (optional)

  • after your basturma is finished you can equalize it by placing the dried meat in a vac sealed bag and removing all the air out of it. Then place it in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks. This will allow the moisture levels that are in your basturma to equally redistribute throughout the meat. This often deepens the flavor and improves the texture of the final product.

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8 thoughts on “Basturma

  1. Basel Abdo
    Basel Abdo

    5 stars
    Thanks a lot for showing a professional way of doing basturma,
    I have couple questions in here:
    1- How can I air dry it without using the collagen sheets/knitting?
    2- After I cover it with Chamun, how can I air dry it without putting it in a modified fridge? I mean in the kitchen as an example.
    3- Is it possible to build a small chamber, like from cardboard or wood, or big container and hang it inside? because I’ve done it long time ago and I know the smell of fenugreek and garlic is unbearable, for my wife not for me πŸ™‚

    Btw, I started doing it and now it’s in the curing process.
    Thanks a lot πŸ™‚

    1. Eric
      Eric

      Thank you.
      1. You can air dry using a cheese cloth.
      2. After you add the spice past you can continue to dry in your kitchen if your kitchen or outside temperature is cool. If it’s too warm or dry the basturma will dry out too quickly leaving you with a very tough outer ring.
      3. Yes. A plastic box with a bin that has water in it or a few sponges will give you a pretty high humidity and shield the smell a little bit.

      The key to a great basturma though is cool temperature and high humidity. If you can find a place to have that you will be eating delicious basturma in no time 😁

  2. Douglas McMasters
    Douglas McMasters

    I’m curious about using Instacure #1 rather than #2. Could you explain your thoughts?

    1. Eric
      Eric

      Sure. It really all depends on how large your cut is. Mine took just under 30 days to complete so I used cure #1. If you have a large cut you can use Cure #2 in this recipe.

  3. Jeffrey A Gold
    Jeffrey A Gold

    It is advisable to vac seal the basturma after the spice rub dries? Can I also vac seal and freeze to preserve? I know that vac sealing with some spice rubs causes slime inside the package (think mold 600).

    1. Eric
      Eric

      Hi Jeffrey. You can vac seal this product with no slimy effect😁. Just make sure there’s no mold growth on the basturma..

  4. Dennis I
    Dennis I

    Eric – I need your help with cure time in order to select the right cure salt number. Can you confirm the 30-day cut-off for #1 vs #2 includes the “dry time” not just the initial salt cure? And secondly, do we add actual time in the refrigerator for the computation, or just the minimum cure time per the calculator? As you point out, the calculator could be 4 days whereas the actual days could be a month. Thanks in advance, you’ve got me hooked.

    1. Eric
      Eric

      The curing time starts the day you add the cure. So when you cure the meat and place it in the fridge that’s day 1. If by the time the muscle is finished drying it’s 33+ days or whatever, I would go with cure 2

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