How To Make Real South African Biltong


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Ingredients needed:

First, be sure to sterilize all your hooks, knives, and working surfaces by washing well in hot water and soap.

Get some half-inch thick strips of beef (silverside - called London Broil in the US). Make sure it's cut with the grain. The pieces should be about 6 inches long. Liberally sprinkle rock-salt on each side of the pieces of meat and let them stand for an hour. The longer you let it stand the saltier it will become.

After the hour, scrape off all the excess salt with a knife (don't soak it in water!). Then get some vinegar - preferably apple-cider vinegar, but any vinegar will do. Put some vinegar in a bowl and brush (do not dip) the strips of meat with the vinegar - just so that the meat is covered in the vinegar. Hold the biltong up so that the excess vinegar drips off.

Then sprinkle ground pepper and ground coriander over the meat on all sides.

If you want that special tasting biltong which you remember from back home, then you may like to try the special spice mixtures used by South African butchers which is available from our online store (UK only) at http://www.biltongbox.com/shop/. These spice mixtures give excellent and consistant results with no salting necessary - just sprinkle the spice on, and hang.

Once you have done this, the meat is ready to dry. There are several methods of drying. One is to hang it up on a line in a cool place and have a fan blow on it. This method is a bit difficult because if the air is humid the meat can spoil. The method I use is a home-made 'Biltong Box'. This is basically a sealed wooden box (you can use cardboard if you like) with holes in it and a 60w lightbulb inside. Just hang the meat at the top of the box, and leave the lightbulb on at the bottom. The heat from the lightbulb helps dry the meat (even in humid weather) in about 3-4 days. Remember, the box must be closed on all 6 sides except for a few holes (as per the diagram below). The whole theory behind this method is that hot dry air rises thus drying the biltong. The holes are quite important as they promote good air circulation in the box.

Click here for pictures of a working biltong box!


              0.4 meter across
              _______________
FRONT VIEW    |             |
              |x-----------x|  < ------- Hang biltong here on a wire
              |  B    B     |
   1.0 meter  |  I    I     |
     high     |  L    L     |
              |  T    T     |
              |  O    O     |
              |  N    N     |
              |  G    G     |
              |             |
              |x-----------x|  <------- Put a piece of perforated wood 
60W lightbulb |     @       |            covering the lightbulb here. This
goes here --> |    |||      |            prevents blood from dropping on the
              ---------------            lightbulb.  Make sure the wood has
                                         a few holes in ot to let the hot air
                                         rise.


              0.4 meter across
              _______________
SIDE VIEW     |             |
              |  O  O  O    |  
              |             |   <--------   Holes at the top of the box on
   1.0 meter  |   O  O  O   |                both sides.
     high     |             |
              |             |
              |             |
              |             |
              |             |
              |             |
              | O  O  O     |   < --------   Holes at the bottom of the box
60W Lightbulb |             |                by the lightbulb on both sides.
goes here --> |  O  O  O    |
              ---------------

You'll know when the biltong is ready when it is quite hard, but still a bit moist inside. Of course, some people like it 'wet' and others like it 'dry'. It's all a matter of taste. Most South Africans I know like it in between - basically just a bit red inside. If it has gone green, then the meat has spoiled (i.e. don't eat it).

Variations include the above recipe, but add flavours like Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce, tabasco sauce, soy sauce, etc.. Just brush these sauces on after applying the vinegar using a basting brush.

Have fun with this recipe, and please mail me any success stories.

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