I make biltong on a reasonably regular basis, and have decided, after being asked by a number of people, to show them how I do it. This is just one of hundreds of biltong recipes available on the web, and I don’t claim to do it better than anyone else. My drying box is a wooden Ikea cabinet that I converted – you can buy or make your own biltong box – let me google that for you right here.
- Joint of beef (silverside or topside)
- Coarse salt (about 1kg – can vary)
- Red wine vinegar
- 100g coriander seeds
- 30g black peppercorns
I buy a joint of beef from a local supermarket or butcher for my biltong. I use topside or silverside (both are UK cuts, I think London Broil is an approximate US equivalent). I buy a piece which is about 1.8 kg to 2.3 kg in size. I trim the fat off, because I prefer my biltong lean, but leave it on if you prefer to. Click on any of the pictures to zoom in. I cut slices, the length of the joint, about 2.5cm to 4cm thick (1 to 1.5 inches). A joint therefore normally yields about 4-6 strips.
I line a tray with foil, cover in salt, and then salt all the meat. Once I have the strips ready, I pack them in coarse salt. I make sure to cover all sides. I rub the salt in a bit, but not too vigorously. Then, wrap the foil over the meat, and set aside in a cool area for 60-90 minutes. This is not an exact time, but around an hour to an hour and half is about the right time to draw out much of the blood, without making making the meat too salty. The length of time you let it salt depends on the thickness of the meat, and if you get distracted by anything.
Meanwhile, you need to prepare the spices, which you can do ahead of time, or while the meat is salting. Heat a large flat frying pan, and when it is very hot, pour in all the coriander. Keep agitating the pan, or they will burn, while the seeds brown. When they are a lovely dark browny golden colour, turn off the heat and allow to cool.
I use a coffee grinder for the next bit, but be creative if you don’t have one. Add the roasted coriander and peppercorns, and blend. Don’t run the blender too long, as you want some bulk to the mix – I can’t describe how long to do it for, because each blender will be different, but keep flicking it on and off until you get a mixed consistency of powder and partial seeds.
When the meat is salted, scrape off the salt over a sink, and briefly rinse with water (the rinse is optional, try both and see how salty you may want your biltong to be) to get the rest of the salt off.
I set up a production line, of the meat, red wine vinegar in an open bowl, spice mix, a plate for spicing the meat, and a board to lie the meat on once it is ready. Dip the meat in the vinegar, making sure it gets fully covered in liquid. Make sure the vinegar is not dripping off the meat though, it should just be wet all over but not running. I use a plate or bowl to then cover the meat in the spice mix. I cover the plate lightly with some mix first, then dab the sides and ends of each strip in the mix, before laying it on top of the mix and covering both sides with more mix from the main bowl containing the mix.
Once a piece is covered, lay it on a flat wooden board, and continue til all the meat is spiced. I bought some metal hooks from ebay, which serve really well, so hook the meat about 2cm’s from the top, then hang in you drying box.
Enjoy, and let me know how you get on