I really love biltong, and being a fitness junky, the extra protein does come in handy. Ready-made biltong costs in the region of R130 – R150 p/kg, whereas fresh silverside meat is in the region of R70 p/kg. So you can almost make it yourself for half the price (I said almost).
First off you need to get a hot, dry and ventilated place to dry the biltong. I don’t have a place like that in my house, so I rather built a dryer using left-over pieces of wood, a computer fan, a 12v transformer and a light bulb. For me this was the fun part, I really love D.I.Y and I had a buddy over to help me with the assembly, so it went rather quick. Just make sure there is enough ventilation and that your fan extracts all the moisture from the lamp heating the meat. Take care to put flyscreen material or any other porous material over any opening you might have in your dryer. Trust me, you don’t want any nasty flies sitting on your precious biltong meat, it will spoil all of it.
Once you have your dryer assembled, you can move on to the meat of the task (bad pun, excuse me). Go buy yourself some A-grade quality silverside meat from your local butcher, I bought mine at Checkers and it was R70 p/kg, but I’ve spoken to other people who said that their local butcher sells it for far less. Shop around see where you can get the best meat for the cheapest price.
You’re going to need the following ingredients:
- Brown vinegar
- Worcestershire sauce
- Red wine (optional)
- Brown sugar
- Coarse sea salt
- Coriander seeds
- Whole pepper corns
The first thing you do is pour two dessert spoons of Worcestershire sauce together with equal amounts of brown vinegar and red wine into a large dish big enough to put all your meat in and cover it with the fluid. You’re going to want to be able to cover this dish and leave it in the fridge overnight.
The next morning, take equal amounts of coriander seeds and pepper corns and blitz them briefly (about less than 5 seconds) in a food processor, just to open up all the flavour. Mix that with two desert spoons of brown sugar and coarse sea salt.
Drain your meat from the vinegar and wine mixture and lay it flat on a tray. Sprinkle your spice mixture generously over both sides of the meat, taking care to rub it in as much as you can. After this, you’re going to want to let this marinate for another 8 hours or until the following day, whichever comes first.
The last step in this process is to hang your meat in your dryer and let the curing process begin. My dryer does such a good job that I can usually start eating after about 3 days. On the 4th or 5th day all the meat is completely dry.