Sunday, September 20, 2009

first attempt at making biltong

Biltong is a South African cured meat, originating with Dutch settlers who needed a way to preserve big slabs of game. It's marinated in vinegar and spices then hung to dry for several days. There are many recipes and techniques varying quite a bit in the type of vinegar, quantity of salt and sugar, presence of other spices, stages of application and marination, curing method, and curing time.

For my first attempt I drew upon three main sources and concocted my own amalgamation of the three.
I used about five pounds of beef top sirloin and tri-tip steaks.

Rather than separating the wet and dry marination processes I went with the simpler approach of producing a single wet marinade. I used:
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • generous 1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 2 heaping tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • scant 2 tablespoons coarse sea salt
  • 1/3 cup crushed coriander seeds (Indian)
I left the steaks whole aside from one, since they were already about an inch thick and judging by the photos in the chowhound article the shrinkage will be considerable. The tri-tips were already fairly elongate.

They went straight into a zip lock bag with the marinade where I massaged them and sucked out all the air.

They marinated for about 19 hours. I rinsed them in a solution of vinegar and water, taking off most of the coriander seeds.

I boiled and threaded wire through each piece and hung them in my hacked together biltong dryer. The dryer maintains a temperature of 110 to 140 degrees. After 22 hours this is how they looked.

After 24 hours I took a sample from the bottom of a tri-tip and a sirloin. The thin piece of tri-tip was fairly dry and firm and very chewy, although not difficult like a rock hard piece of jerky. The flavor was a really nice tang complemented well by the coriander. The sirloin, obviously much less thoroughly cured and extremely tender, also had a strong beefy flavor. I don't think the sirloin is quite ready, and probably the tri-tip isn't either in the thicker parts.

I'm not sure yet how long I'll let these go. Another day, for sure. This article, which I found only later after looking for photos of sliced biltong to gauge the color, notes that the moisture content is a matter of personal preference. I don't know if there are spoilage concerns with more moisture but that seems like a possibility. They aren't like a cured ham with a thick layer of protective gunk.


Jane S Poole said...

I'm impressed.

Alex said...

very good, let me know how the sirloin turns out.

I have been using flank steak, and it comes out really well - the only problem is that it's considerably more expensive

Biltong said...

Hi Steve,
I know i'm a bit late to the party, but just wanted to say that Biltong looks absolutely delicious. I make a lot of Biltong myself and consider myself a bit of a connoisseur; it's amazing how much dried up American style Jerky people try to pass off as Biltong. Yours looks like the real deal, so well done.

Steve Poole said...

Thanks! I'm about to fire up a new batch. Do you have any favorite recipes?

Ny Biltong said...

Buy biltong for an appetizing meal at New York Biltong where you can choose from a variety of their products from sizes to flavorings. They sell biltong in snack sizes where you can just open the pack and eat it as your snack. You can even make this as a spread and serve this instead of serving spreads with preservatives. If this is your first time to use biltong, then, you can check their website and they have provided delicious recipes that are easy to follow. buy biltong now and serve a delicious, healthy meal that you would all enjoy.