South Africa’s all time favourite snack - Biltong is strips of salted dried meat. Different meats such as beef, ostrich, and game (springbok, kudu) can be used to make biltong (beef is the popular standard). Spices other than coriander can be used including chilli for a “spicier” snack. Biltong is similar to beef jerky (but better!).Makes: ± 10 kilograms
25 kg beef fillet, rump OR sirloin
1.25 kg fine salt
250 ml brown sugar
50 ml bicarbonate of soda
20 ml saltpetre (optional)
25 ml ground black pepper
100 g coarsely ground coriander
500 ml vinegar mixed with 5 litres warm water
- Roasting the Coriander
- Coriander is one of the seasonings which really identify with good biltong. Roasted coriander in particular lends a wonderful flavour to your final product. In order to roast your coriander, place dried coriander seeds in a dry pan over medium heat and stir the seeds around the pan. The seeds will give off a strong aroma and will turn a golden brown colour. At this point you should remove the seeds and coarsely crush them.
- Cutting the Meat
- The meat must be cut with the grain. This is because when you come to eat the final product you will cut the biltong across the grain (and tough tissue), in order to get the most tender pieces.
- In cool, dry climates, your initial strips of meat can be cut fairly thick, and of any length. In warm, moist climates, your initial strips of meat should be cut thinner. This is because the thicker the strip of meat, the longer it will take to dry out, and the more likely the meat is to spoil during the drying process. Try to remove as much sinew and binding tissue as possible when you cut your strips of meat.
- Curing the Meat
- Mix the bicarbonate of soda, saltpetre and salt in a bowl. Once well mixed, dry rub all the meat pieces. Coat all surfaces, spreading the mixture evenly. Next, take the brown sugar and dry rub this into the meat as well. Begin layering the meat (thick pieces at the bottom) in a plastic or glass dish only! With every layer, sprinkle a little undiluted vinegar on each piece of meat. Use red, white, or apple cider vinegar. Put the meat in a fridge to soak overnight.
- Spicing the Meat
- Remove the meat from the fridge and prepare a vinegar bath, mix 500 ml vinegar with 5 litres warm water. Before cleaning the meat, mix the crushed roasted coriander and the ground pepper. Now taking each strip independently, wash the meat in the bath to remove all excess salts and spices. The meat surface should be clean after the wash. Do not dry the meat, let excess vinegar water drip off the pieces.
- Sprinkle on the coriander and pepper mixture and gently press onto the meat surfaces, remembering to evenly spread the mixture over all pieces.
- Drying the Meat
- The meat will shrink by a large amount during the drying process. The more dry you like your biltong the more it will shrink, due to moisture loss from the strips of meat. You can roughly estimate that your end product, will yield approximately 50% of your starting weight.
- The ideal conditions for drying your biltong are in a breezy place, away from direct sunlight, but well-lighted, in order to prevent mildew.
- Make sure that you keep it away from ants, rats, insects and pets.
- The time it takes to dry biltong varies depending on how thick your meat slices are, what type of conditions you have in the place you are drying your biltong, and the method you chose to dry your biltong. With practice, you will get to know when your biltong is dried to your taste. It is a matter of personal preference, how “wet” or “dry” you like your biltong. Typically it should be hard on the outside, but a little moist and red on the inside. With time, you will learn to squeeze the biltong between your fingers, and use the sponginess of the biltong as your guide.
- There are many different methods people use to dry biltong, I use a home-made box which doubles up as a dryer for fruit or vegetables as well.
Make biltong during cool dry months. Do not cut meat more than 20 mm thick if it is not really cool.
To make game biltong use venison OR ostrich meat instead of beef.
Cuisine: South African