cooks at home

MEAT MACRAMÉ

Local couple embraces art of preserving beef.

WRITTEN BY HEIDI BETHEL
PHOTOS BY ASA GILMORE

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Sharon and Steven Ing in their Reno home

Just on the outskirts of the Toiyabe National Forest, in a house high on the mountainside overlooking West Reno’s Caughlin Ranch, sits a spherical room with concrete walls nestled between an architectural masterpiece and the arid ground that surrounds it. In this inconspicuous room, you might expect to find a plethora of wine from around the globe or, perhaps, a dry storage area. Instead, upon entry, as you’re hit with humid, cool air and Mozart playing softly in the background, a few pieces of center-cut beef steaks hang fully entwined in all their curing glory.

This is Steven Ing’s happy place. His wife, Sharon, finds solace in the space, too.

“It’s the only man cave with a Hobart meat slicer and collection of opera books,” she says.

Steven is a therapist, speaker, trainer, and writer in Reno who specializes in human sexuality. With a background in fine arts and entrepreneurial passion, Sharon has managed Steven’s counseling practice since 1998 and now serves as the president and chief executive officer of Ing Consulting and Ing Intellectual. Together, they have completely renovated their home and filled it with custom art pieces.

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Cured charcuterie

In centuries past, mankind kippered wild game to keep on reserve to survive the harsh winters. While the invention of refrigeration has since negated the need to salt and cure meat, Steven values the care that comes with the curing process.

“Our species wouldn’t exist if our ancestors hadn’t figured out how to preserve food,” he explains. “I became fascinated with the fact that humans could keep meat for long periods of time without a method to cool it. And I particularly appreciate that these delicious gourmet meats are raw and were once kept for backup food.”

About three years ago, Steven and a group of friends from South America decided to try their hand at meat curing. They referred to Salumi: The Craft of Italian Dry Curing by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn — a work Steven regards with pure joy and a widely popular book among critics. Today, they have mastered the process of making bresaola, a center-cut beef steak steeped in salt, black pepper, bay and thyme leaves, crushed juniper berries, ground cinnamon, cloves, and dry white wine.

“It sits for three weeks in 60 percent humidity, where it’s aged to perfection,” Steven says. “Then it’s time to enjoy it. And who doesn’t love Italian dry salumi?”

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The Ings' cured bresaola served with arugula, shaved Parmesan,
olive oil, lemon juice, and black pepper. It's accompanied by an Ing Sling

Plated accoutrements

Speaking of enjoying the cured meat, Sharon has a few tricks up her sleeve when serving bresaola and other charcuterie. One of them is to use white plates or platters.

“Pretty plates look good with nothing on them. When you add the food they muffle the message,” she notes.

She suggests offering the cured meats with a drizzle of olive oil alongside an appetizing display of olives, preserved lemon (which Steven also makes), fresh lemon slices, capers, sweet white onion, and edible flowers. For the perfect cocktail pairing, Sharon touts the couple’s own Ing Sling.

“This acidic cocktail is a nice complement to the dish that guests really love,” she says.

Heidi Bethel thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the Ings and learning about their passion for food. She looks forward to shaking up an Ing Sling, or two, for herself soon.

Recipes

Ing Sling
(courtesy of Sharon Ing, president and CEO, Ing Consulting and Ing Intellectual in Reno. Serves 1)

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2 ounces Nolet’s gin
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Squirt of agave nectar

Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake. Strain into martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

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