Biltong is made from good quality steak such as sirloin, which is what i tend to use and make a kilo at a time. It 's pricey, but you get a great product.
In America they have a process where they use minced, or ground as they call it, meat, and add to it various seasonings, bought in packets from the supermarket. Usually these are BBQ type seasonings they call ‘rub’, and sometimes they add salt to them, often they don’t. The meat is seasoned and then stuffed into a jerky gun, which resembles a large ratchet action mastic gun, the kind of thing you seal windows and bathrooms with. The resulting material is usually smoked and cooked – or hot smoked. The only real advantage, as far as I can see with this process is it allows you to use up off cuts and various pieces of meat, and cheaper cuts, but in terms of curing for keeping I have a single problem. Once minced, the meat has an amazingly large surface area, making it more likely that the meat can become more infected. Consequently it needs more salt, and in my opinion, too much more salt, to make it safe over time.
Ingredients you will need:
- good quality steak
- sea salt
- coriander seeds
- cracked peppercorns
- worcester sauce
Note I haven’t given any quantities, you are simply adding and layering at this stage.
1, Start by trimming most of the fat from the meat. Don’t try to get the marbling out! Actually, many people prefer venison for biltong because it is a lot leaner. You need a lidded plastic box for this recipe. Having trimmed the meat it needs to be cut. Long pieces, around 20 cm by no more than 1 cm - 2 cm wide is what you are looking for.
2, Put a layer of salt, a thin layer, enough to touch the meat but nothing so much as to cover the base – a light sprinkling.
3, Add your first layer of meat and splash Worcester sauce on it, again, not gallons of the stuff, enough to coat is enough.
4, Then sprinkle sea salt over the meat, sparingly – it isn’t a coating, just a heavy seasoning.
6, Once this layer is done repeat with the layers of meat.
7, Close the lid and leave in the fridge for seven days.
8, At the end of this period, remove, wash and pat dry the meat and you start the dehydration process.
9, I use a dehumidifier on its lowest setting, and it takes about three days to dry the meat completely. It changes colour from dark brown to a really dark brown. Your nose is the best arbiter of the meat’s fitness to eat. It should smell sweet, almost neutral. Certainly off smells are a sign the meat needs to be thrown away. Also the meat should not be spongy, but fairly hard to the touch.
P.S. If you don’t have a dehumidifier you can use a box with gauze in the sides so it can be hung, the biltong completely protected on all sides from insects. Drying cabinets are available having temperature and humidity controls. It is humidity that is the enemy of biltong, so the drier you can make it the better. It can take ten or even 20 days in a box to completely dry biltong.
Biltong should last a couple of weeks, kept in a dry container, but in our house it rarely does!