Biltong is a South African delicacy and is essentially dried meat, similar to what they have in the USA known as beef jerky. Biltong is however much better “says he who is from the land of Biltong”
Silverside, NOT corned silverside, is the most popular cut used for making biltong. However, the choice is entirely up to the individual. I have found that rump steak is good as it is full of flavor and does not dry out as much as other cuts of meat, so it ends up being what's known as wet biltong. I typically just get about 3 or 4 steaks from my local butcher. That’s all I can fit in my biltong dryer.
Place the meat in a sealable container and pour over brown or malt vinegar, making sure all the meat is well immersed. This process essentially cures the meat. Refrigerate for 10-15 min.
Take the meat out the container and pat dry with a paper towel, removing the excess vinegar. Then clean and dry the same container used to soak the meat. Sprinkle a moderate amount of biltong spice, yes this is the stuff that makes it taste so delicious, onto the bottom of the container. Place the meat onto the spices and press down gently to ensure that this side of the meat is well covered. Then sprinkle a moderate amount of that amazing spice on top of the meat making sure all the meat is covered.
This process takes time to perfect as too much spice will result in very salty biltong and too little, well, just doesn’t cut it. Then place the sealed container in the fridge overnight 8-12hrs. In the morning, take the meat pieces out the container one at a time and thread a meat hook through the top of each one. Hang them in the biltong dryer making sure the meat does not touch any surface of the dryer or another piece of meat. We have pretty low humidity levels in Canterbury, so the meat tends to dry into edible biltong within 4-5 days. After taking the now biltong out the dryer, dust off excess spices and then slice into thin pieces.
A homemade biltong dryer can come in many shapes and sizes. From wooden boxes to plastic containers, anything that can be used to hang the meat once suitably modified. I have used a 40L Sistema container which is nice and tall and seals easily and is easy to clean. I put wooden dial rods through the top for hanging the meat. At the bottom of the container, on one end is an 80mm PC fan for air circulation, and on the other side are ventilation holes covered with a thin mesh to stop any bugs from entering the dryer. As the humidity levels are nice and low, there is no requirement for a light bulb to be placed in the dryer. This is commonly used to dry the air in climates with high humidity level and thus drying the meat.
A very tasty snack that is packed with protein and makes one seriously good beer companion!