Bresaola technically refers to an air-cured beef that has been rubbed with spices, such as rosemary and thyme. Bresaola originated in the Valtellina valley in Lombardia, where Italians first began stringing pieces of beef up to cure in the cool air of the long Alpine valley. Though bresaola is much leaner than other Italian cured meats and has a sweet, musty smell, the meat itself is succulent and tender. When thinly sliced, bresaola is beautiful to behold, an almost transparent, jewel-colored slip of tender meat.
It should always be sliced paper thin, and is delicious with very simple preparation. Bresaola is at its best when sliced and dressed with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice, and a smattering of freshly cracked black pepper. A little freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano only improves the situation. At Babbo, we also like our bresaola served with some good beans and a dab of our red onion jam.