Season and air-dry.
How Bündnerfleisch is made.
The lean beef pieces are trimmed of any fat and tendons, cured with salt, Alpine herbs and mixed spices, the exact composition of which is a well-kept secret, and stored for quite some time at low temperatures. During this initial storage period, the meat already loses some of its liquid.
The drying phase now follows. The pieces of meat are wrapped in nets and hung in drying facilities which work in such an ingenious way that the meat is dried over a period of about 4 months in exactly the same climatic conditions as in the olden days, when it used to be subjected to the clear, dry mountain air during the harsh winters.
The advantage of the modern method is that Bündnerfleisch can be produced in summer and not just during the winter months.
Form and function.
Why Bündnerfleisch is rectangular.
During the curing process, the pieces of meat are flattened several times on both sides using a special press. This is not done to give it its shape, as some people suspect, but the pressing in fact helps to optimally distribute the moisture which is still contained in the meat.
High-lying and award-winning.
When Bündnerfleisch really is Bündnerfleisch.
Bündnerfleisch is only produced at altitude in Grisons, in villages which are between 800 and 1,800 metres above sea level. To ensure that it stays this way in future, Bündnerfleisch has been registered as a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) since 1999.
Cool and dry.
How the Grisons speciality is stored.
Whole Bündnerfleisch is covered in a towel or wrapped in wax paper and stored in a cool, dry place in the refrigerator or basement. This enables it to be kept for several months. If packaged in a protective atmosphere and stored at a temperature of between ten and twelve degrees Celsius, it will keep for up to ten weeks, and if it is vacuum-packed for up to six months. On the other hand, Bündnerfleisch which is freshly cut into thin slices by a specialist retailer should be eaten on the same day, because that is when it looks most tempting. You can of course also serve the meat one or two days later, but by then it will have turned a dark colour after having come into contact with oxygen. However, this oxidation will not affect the flavour.
No matter how you store the speciality air-dried beef, take it out of the refrigerator and open the packaging at least five minutes – ideally an hour – before you intend to eat it. For the delicacy will only develop its full flavour at room temperature.