The Whole Food Dietitian’s
What The Fat’s very own Whole Food Dietitian Caryn Zinn this week brings us her much requested traditional South African biltong recipe. The perfect project for the long weekend!
What you need:
Drying Equipment: Box (wood / nails / hammer / fly mesh / drawing pins); drip tray; plastic hanging S-hooks; fan.
Biltong: Beef Meat (spices / apple cider vinegar / Worcestershire sauce)
Follow the steps below, along with the pictures to help tell the story and then try it yourself. This is a great activity to do with the family.
- Build a biltong box:
Building a biltong box is easy, the best way to do this properly is to build one that lasts (once you taste the biltong, you’ll be making it constantly, trust me!). So get to a hardware store and knock a few pieces of wood together in a frame, as shown in the picture. Ideal size is around 600cm (height) by 450cm (width) – i.e. big enough to make decent amounts of biltong at a time. Use material mesh on the sides to prevent unwanted critters from getting to the meat before you do. Stick it into the wooden frame with drawing pins, so you can lift the front section up to get to the biltong! Place a tray at the bottom of the box to catch any drips. Get a good fan for drying.
- Preparing the meat
Buy silverside or rump cuts, pieces with fat is fine (provided you live the LCHF lifestyle!). Of course if you live in SA, you have the luxury of buying kudu and ostrich meat which is my favourite! But in NZ we do what we can! Any amount at a time, my dad usually makes 3-4 kilograms and shares with me (cool eh?).
Cut the meat (along the grain) into long strips. Wash in apple cider vinegar for about half an hour. Sprinkle a large baking tray with rock salt (about 2-3 tblsp), white pepper (1 tbsp) and a teaspoon or two of Worcestershire sauce (depending on whether you like it). Roll the meat around in this mixture until all pieces are fully covered. Then liberally add the spice mix (see below) and make sure every piece is well coated. Pour in some apple cider vinegar as well to cover the bottom of the tray. Shake around until everything is well and truly coated. Put in the fridge uncovered overnight, next day hang up to dry.
Spice mix: Coriander seeds (dry roasted till fragrant – this is key!), peppercorns and garlic flakes. Grind together to make the spice and store in large airtight containers. The ratio would be: 60% coriander seeds, and 20% each garlic flakes and pepper corns. Add a sprinkle of chilli flakes if you want some added bite. Feel free to play around with the combination until you get the perfect mix, it all depends on your taste really.
- Hanging and drying the meat
Thread the top of each piece onto a plastic S-hook (easily found at $2 shops) and hang onto the wooden hangers (as per picture). Make sure when you hang the meat, that no part of the strips touch each other or the bottom of the box. When all is done, sit the fan close to the box (on the outside), turn it on, and leave it on for anywhere between 2 and 4 days, making sure that all of the meat gets full air circulation. If you don’t do this, you risk some pieces getting mouldy due to humidity. The longer the drying time, the drier and harder the meat will be, so keep checking this (give it the squeeze test); with time you will figure out what you prefer, soft pieces or harder, chewier strips. Give it the press test after 2 days to assess. When you think it’s done, (chop into bite size pieces, and) place in a container. You can keep it in the pantry in cooler months for about a week; in more humid months, I would recommend keeping it in the fridge to prevent it from getting mouldy.
Use biltong as a nibble for guests, a snack during the day or even part of a meal. Sounds weird but shaved biltong bits in a salad is divine! Good luck and enjoy your creations!