Firstly- if you think I have made a typo and have no idea what I am talking about let me explain. Biltong is a South African dried meat, traditionally made using beef or game, seasoned with spices and vinegar. Biltong’s American cousin is known as Beef Jerky.
So this weekend involved some rugby and therefore plenty of delicious biltong to gnaw on while watching. (Sounding very South African right now) Anyhoo- I thought about how straight forward this tasty snack is to make but how it normally comes with a 300% mark up.
Turns out it’s pretty darn easy to make and actually quite fun. Thanks to one of our ever so lovely wedding guests we received a food dehydrator/ Biltong maker earlier this year and now I can put it to good use.
So a quick trip to the butcher and a not so quick chat with him about the ins and outs of what I was about to do… I landed up back home with 1.5kgs of Topside beef, asked the husband to assemble the biltong contraption and began!
- 1.5kgs Topside beef
- 50ml red wine vinegar
- 50ml apple cider vinegar
- 4 Tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 Tbsp sea salt flakes
- 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp chilli flakes
Toast coriander seeds in a frying pan until fragrant.
Place into a mortar and pestle and grind them down leaving some crushed and some into a finer powder.
Tip them out and add sea salt, black pepper, paprika and chilli flakes into the mortar and mix well.
Combine your spices with the vinegars. Pour into a large baking tray or platter with enough space to lay out all of your meat evenly.
Slicing the beef is the most important part. The butcher, bless his blood covered apron, went into great detail about this. You have to slice the meat WITH the grain as once the biltong is dry you slice across it for a more tender, chewable experience.
When choosing your cut of meat make sure the butcher knows what you are doing with it as you will need one that will give you nice lengthy pieces of biltong- around 20- 25 cms. Slice your beef along the natural grain of the meat into 4-5cm wide slices. Your slices should be around 1 – 2cm thick. The thicker they are the longer they will take to dry so aim for around 1cm. Trim off any excess fat but leave a little on for those extra tasty bits.
(Mine came out roughly – 1cm H x 5cm W x 25cm L)
Once sliced add them to your marinade and make sure they are well covered in spices and vinegar. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 4 hours, turning them over half way.
Once your meat is done marinading you need to insert your hanging hooks into the thickest and heaviest side of the slice of meat.
Let the excess vinegar drip off and hang them so that each piece of meat does not touch the sides of the dehydrator or rub up against its fellow friends hanging out.
And now we wait! Hence the Part 1… Part 2 will coming your way in supposedly about 3 days. The butcher said you can start testing it anywhere after 24 hours for ‘doneness’. I don’t like my biltong very dry so will be keeping a close watch on it.
If you do not have your own dehydrator- fret not. There are some hysterical and rather inventive DIY biltong drying boxes and contraptions that google can provide!
***After only 26 hours in the dehydrator this is what we have so far: