If you’ve ever attended a gathering of rugby supporters, braai aficionados or generally any group of 2 or more South Africans, there’s bound to be some biltong or droëwors as part of the snack ensemble.
With the price of biltong in the region of about R250/kg it could seriously make a dent in your pocket with all the World Cup Rugby 2015 games in the tournament.
So why not make your own with this quick and easy biltong recipe? Biltong usually calls for the cheaper topside or silverside cuts of beef which means you’ll be munching away at your own signature biltong at a fraction of the price of the ready-made variety. And you get double-points for being able to make your own.
Naturally you could also make biltong from ostrich, chicken, bacon or any other game meat.
Since summer is upon us, making biltong in the cold confines of the garage in winter becomes less of an option, so rather opt for a quick biltong maker. I use the Mellerware Biltong King, biltong maker and hydrator which you can find almost everywhere. Expect to pay in the region of R250-R500 for a box. Shop around, there are some specials at the moment.
For this biltong recipe I used Smoked Flavours’ Liquid Smoke. The hickory smoke flavour in my last batch of biltong was an incredible hit with family and friends. So I will definitely be doing that again.
The biltong spice comes from our local butchery, Country Meat. We found this mix to work the best for us. Try some of their biltong first, and if you like it just get one of their biltong kits. It contains between 2-3kg of biltong meat and a sachet of biltong spice.
For complete decadence – try Country Meat’s waygu beef biltong. It has at an eye-watering price, but it is pretty good.
If you want to make your own biltong spice, just combine 1/2 cup ground coriander, 2 Tbs ground black pepper, 1/2 cup sea salt (not pouring or table salt – Himalayan pink salt works wonders) and 2 Tbs brown sugar. Taste the mix and adjust to fit the flavour profile you’re trying to achieve. You could also add some smoked paprika to the mix.
On with the biltong recipe then.
- 2 kg silverside or topside - or get a biltong kit from your local good butcher (usually includes biltong spice)
- 1/2 cup brown grape vinegar
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- Cup of biltong spice
- 3 Tbs Smoked Flavours Hickory Liquid Smoke - Optional but recommended.
- Start by adding a few sprinkles of vinegar, worcestershire, a few drops of liquid smoke and spices to the bottom of a wide, flat non-metal dish.
- Layer your meat flat in the dish, then add another equal layer of basting and seasoning on top. It is easier to sprinkle the liquids first as this provides a base for the spice mix to adhere to.
- Ensure the meat is well covered on all sides.
- Continue to layer and base your meat until all is done.
- Cover the dish with clingfilm and let it marinade in the fridge for about 30 minutes to 1 hour. You may leave it longer - the basting will just steep deeper into the meat for a more intense flavour.
- Thoroughly clean your biltong maker and sterilise the hooks.
- Layer some kitchen towel or foil in the bottom of the biltong maker to catch any drippings.
- Skewer and hang your biltong meat.
- Switch on the biltong maker and pour yourself a glass to celebrate the wonder that is biltong in the making.
Depending on the weather conditions (warm weather vs. cooler temperature), the cuts of meat (thicker strips vs. thinner strips), how you like your meat (soft or hard), the drying time could vary from 24 hours to 5 days. The biltong maker is quite efficient, so it doesn’t take that long before you can sample your first batch.
Basically if you start by latest on Wednesday, you could have your very own batch of biltong ready for the World Cup Rugby game on Saturday.
And that’s a win in anyone’s books – regardless of how the team performs.