The meat has been present in the diet of mankind since ancient times, being one of its main components. In order to preserve the meat in conditions when there was no refrigerator at all, the cooks were refined as best they could: smoked, dried, marinated in spices, dried - in a word, experimented. And - a funny curiosity! - in the end, it is meat products cooked "the old fashioned way" that today have gained a reputation as the main delicacies that can become the decoration of any festive table.
One of these delicacies is basturma. Dried beef tenderloin seasoned with aromatic spices is famous for its spicy taste and unique aroma.
States located on the territory of the former Ottoman Empire are considered to be the historical homeland of basturma. For the first time this name is mentioned in manuscripts dating back to 95 BC.
There are several versions of how this dish appeared. The first one is the simplest. She says that the first cooks of basturma were the court cooks of the Armenian king Tigran Metz (Tigran the Great). The king, whose rule was marked by numerous military campaigns and campaigns, instructed the chefs to come up with a way that would help preserve the meat for a long time, since the soldiers needed to eat something, but they did not always have to count on a successful hunt. As a result, a method was developed for drying meat previously grated with a mixture of spices.
The second theory says that during a military clash that occurred on one of the campaigns, the bags carrying the meat were torn, and salt and spices that were in the container lying next to it woke up on the “strategic supply”. The soldiers did not dare to throw out the meat, just as far as possible and able they cleaned it of salt and seasonings, and transferred it to saddlebags. As a result, some time later, it was discovered that the meat was suitable for food.
The third version seems to be the most exotic, but also highly appetizing. However, historians are inclined to believe that it is she who is closest to the truth. So, it says that the word "basturma" comes from the Turkic word "basdirma" - compressed horse meat. According to this theory, the soldiers of Genghis Khan, during their campaigns, in order not to carry huge convoys with provisions, carried horsemeat with them, cutting it into pieces and tying the horses directly under the saddle. As a result, the meat was impregnated with horse sweat containing salt, and under the influence of the weight of the rider excess fluid came out of it. The result was a very strange dish, the main advantage of which was a long shelf life.
A similar method of transporting meat was also "adopted" by merchants. In the Middle Ages, jerky became the basis of the diet of seafarers. Of course, they prepared it in a way that was more acceptable from the modern point of view - they were crushed in salt and spices, placed under a press, and then dried.
Classical basturma is prepared exclusively from beef, although there are varieties of this dish made from chicken, lamb, pork. Only meat from young animals is used. Suitable for preparing beef basturma tenderloin, fillet, and also rump.
The first step in preparing basturma is to cut the meat into long and thin plates, the thickness of which should not exceed three centimeters. These plates, having previously been rubbed with salt on all sides (usually using a large one), are placed in a wooden container, also on a layer of salt. A few days later, the meat begins to secrete juice, after which it must be kept for another three weeks in this brine.
After this, soak the meat in running water for several days. As a result, it becomes softer, and excess salt goes away. However, so far this product is corned beef, not basturma. To make the meat a delicacy, it should be grated with spices. Most often, a mixture is prepared from blue fenugreek, crushed garlic, red and black pepper, suneli hop and other seasonings. The result is a mixture that, in consistency, resembles batter, which is coated with pieces of meat. After that, each of the pieces, tied with twine, is suspended in a place protected from direct sunlight with good air circulation. In this state, the basturma will have to spend from two to three weeks.
How to choose a quality delicacy
High-quality basturma, prepared in strict accordance with all the rules, is a delicious delicacy, but at the same time very expensive. To make the production process less expensive, many unscrupulous manufacturers are trying to save. Most often, they use low quality ingredients for this purpose.
So that the purchased product does not disappoint you, you should approach the choice of delicacy responsibly, given several important rules:
- Buy basturma exclusively from trusted sellers. Carefully inspect the vacuum packaging - it should not have punctures, cuts, scratches.
- Learn the composition. Ideally, there should generally be only three kinds of ingredients: spices, salt and beef. If the list contains flavors, dyes, flavor enhancers and other dubious substances, then it is better to refuse the acquisition of such dried beef.
- Inspect the color of the basturma. The meat should not have a bright red hue, since this color indicates the use of dyes. Properly prepared natural basturma should be red-brown, not too bright. There should not be any colored spots on the cut.
- The consistency of high-quality basturma is elastic. The meat is slightly springy when pressed. If after you put pressure on the meat, a hole forms in it, it is better to refuse the acquisition.
- The shell of spices "sits" on high-quality jerky beef like a glove - it does not crumble and does not fall off in pieces.
- Fresh product has a characteristic spicy smell. If you feel a certain musty, it means that the cooking technology and storage rules were violated.
How to store
Basturma is a product that is extremely picky in storage. It does not tolerate high temperature, and therefore it must be stored exclusively in a cool place. At the same time, this delicacy should also not be put in the refrigerator, because this will adversely affect its aroma and taste.
It is not recommended to store basturma in plastic containers or in plastic bags. It is best to use a linen bag, and store it in a suspended form, in a place with good air circulation.
If you still have to put the basturma in the refrigerator, then it must first be wrapped in cling film so that it does not absorb extraneous odors. Eat meat should be in the next few days.
Shelf life varies from two to six months. It depends on what meat was used to prepare the delicacy, as well as on the amount of spices and salt.
Chemical composition, calorie content and beneficial properties
The energy value of basturma is quite low. 100 g of product contains a little more than 200 kcal. The composition of the nutrients is as follows: 19.3 g of protein and 12.9 g of fat. Carbohydrates are absent.
Due to the fact that no heat treatment is used during the preparation of basturma, almost all the substances present in the original product are preserved in this delicacy. These are, first of all, B vitamins, which ensure the normal functioning of the nervous system, increase stress resistance, help maintain an acceptable level of blood sugar and are responsible for the digestive system. Basturma also contains vitamin A, which has antioxidant properties, slows down the aging process and helps increase the body's resistance.
Beef basturma, due to the high iron content in this meat, should be present in the diet of people who have been diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia. The presence of animal proteins in this product helps to overcome chronic fatigue, and it is easier to tolerate physical and intellectual stress.
Spices present in basturma have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects.
Basturma is a completely "self-sufficient" product that can be used in its "natural" form. They serve it usually, like other meat delicacies, in a chopped form. Ideally, the basturma slices should be very thin, in fact, the same as not too thick cardboard. As a complement to this delicacy, spicy and sweet and sour sauces, greens, as well as a side dish of potatoes, cabbage or other vegetables are served.
Basturma also goes well with pasta, mushrooms, low alcohol drinks.
Spiced beef jerky is often used to make burgers, salads and sandwiches. In addition, it can act as a filling for pork medallions.
Cooking homemade beef basturma
As noted above, due to the high cost of basturma, many manufacturers are trying to somehow save on the production process, as a result of which the quality of the product inevitably suffers. Therefore, if there is a desire and a certain skill, it is better to cook this delicacy yourself.
For this you need the following ingredients: one and a half kilograms of beef, a pack of salt, 0.5 cups of a chaman, three tablespoons of ground paprika, the same amount of ground cumin, the same amount of coriander and Georgian adjika, as well as 1.5-2 cups of boiled room water temperature.
Divide the meat into three equal pieces, the weight of each should be about 500 g. At the bottom of the pan pour some salt, put the meat on top and cover with the remaining salt. After that, put the meat in the refrigerator, where he will spend three days. Do not forget to drain the eye-catching juice, and turn the meat over once or twice a day.
When the meat is salted properly, it should be washed under running water and dried using a kitchen towel. In the event that it is important for you that the meat is not salted, after you have washed it, leave it for three hours in cool water, changing it every 60 minutes.
At the next stage, the meat will be placed under the press. Wrap each piece in cotton cloth, then put a load on it and take the meat to the balcony or put it in the refrigerator. After two hours, check the fabric and, if it is wet, replace it with a new one. This is necessary so that excess moisture is removed. As a press, you can use a five-liter bottle of water.
Under the press, the meat will spend a day. After that, make a hole on top of each piece, pass through it a wire or plastic clamp and hang the meat to dry. To do this, place it at room temperature in a place with good air circulation, but at the same time protected from sunlight. The meat will dry for three days.
On the eve of this step, prepare the spread. This must be done in the evening, so that the mixture swells overnight. Pour the chaman and spices into the pan, and then begin to pour in a little water, constantly stirring. The chaman will gradually begin to thicken. You need the mixture to acquire the consistency of thick sour cream. After that add adjika, stir and add water. To make the texture of the mixture more homogeneous, you can pass it through a blender.
Spread the meat, trying to make the layer absolutely even. After that, hang it again to dry. When the surface dries, apply a second coat of chaman. If you notice cracks on the surface, lightly wet your hands and rub them with your fingers.
When coated, the meat will have to dry from three to five days, depending on the thickness of the piece and the temperature in the room. After three days, check the basturma for readiness by gently squeezing it with your fingers. In elasticity, it should resemble a dried sausage.
Remove the finished basturma from the dryer and tightly wrap it in cling film, then put it in the refrigerator for four days. After that, the delicacy can be considered ready to eat.
Cooking Armenian Basturma
The “trick” of the Armenian basturma is that the meat is soaked in wine, and it is the wine that mixes the spices.
To prepare this delicacy, you will need the following ingredients: a kilogram of veal, a liter of red dry wine, 2-3 tablespoons of salt, two teaspoons of ground red pepper, a chaman and ground dry pomegranate seeds, 4-5 cloves of garlic, previously passed through the garlic. For smearing, you will need: 100 ml of red dry wine, two packets of suneli hops, 4-5 cloves of garlic, two teaspoons of ground dried pomegranate seeds, 3-4 teaspoons of salt.
Cut the meat into plates with a thickness of 5-6 centimeters. Pour salt into the wine, add a chaman, ground red pepper and pomegranate seeds, as well as garlic. Put the meat in the marinade, crush it with oppression and send it to the refrigerator for a week.
After seven days, remove the meat, let the liquids drain and place for twelve hours under the press, no longer putting it in the refrigerator.
Prepare the coating by mixing spices, salt and garlic in wine. The mixture should be a consistency of thick sour cream. Coat the meat with a layer half a millimeter thick and hang to dry. After a day, apply a second layer, and another day later - a third. After that, the meat will be dried for about ten days.
To prepare chicken basturma you will need: a kilogram of chicken, 200 g of salt, two tablespoons of sugar. For coating, prepare 5 cloves of garlic, two sachets of sunflower hops and other spices to taste.
Peel the fillet and cut it with a "book". Mix salt with sugar and carefully rub this mixture in the fillet. Put the meat in a pan and send it to the refrigerator for a day. Once every three to four hours, it should be turned over.
After a day, get the meat, fill it with water for a couple of hours. After that, transfer to the grate, let the water drain and send it under the press for two hours.
Dry with paper towels. Dilute the garlic and spices with water to the consistency of sour cream, coat the fillets, let them dry, wrap in gauze and send them to dry in a cool place with good air circulation. Basturma will be ready in five to seven days.
Harm and contraindications
Despite the wonderful taste, add basturma to your diet with caution. The thing is that this product can provoke an individual intolerance reaction due to the spices present in its composition.
In addition, since the melting point of beef fat is higher than the temperature of the human body, a lot of bile is needed to break it down, as well as lipase, a special enzyme. In this regard, in order for the delicacy to be properly absorbed, the pancreas, liver and gall bladder are forced to work in an “emergency” mode. That is why people who suffer from diseases of the gastrointestinal tract should not get carried away with this delicacy.
It should also be borne in mind that purine bases are present in beef, which lead to the accumulation of uric acid in the body. This is fraught with impaired renal function, as well as osteochondrosis and gout, not to mention pain and inflammation of the joints.
Due to the high salt content, jerky should be used with caution in people who have been diagnosed with hypertension and kidney disease, as well as a tendency to swelling. In order to play it safe, children under the age of twelve should completely exclude basturma from the diet.
It is also worth mentioning a few interesting facts related to this meat delicacy:
- When piloting a basturma, slices are considered “Aerobatics”, which are translucent, like petals of flowers.
- It is believed that if the basturma was cooked in strict accordance with the rules, for several days the sweat of the person who tasted it acquires the smell of spices, which no deodorants can defeat.
- Basturma has a "close relative" - Sujuk. These are dried sausages, which are made from ground beef or horse meat. Their distinguishing characteristic is a flat shape. Sujuk is dried in a draft, and then served, cut into slices two to three millimeters thick.