Biltong (sorta like beef jerky !)

Discussion in 'Geek Recipes' started by Quan-Time, Dec 12, 2009.

  1. Quan-Time

    Quan-Time Member

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    Biltong is the South African art of meat drying.. And i say art for a reason.

    Beef jerky that most of us know is some what "cooked" to be dry. Usually in a dehumidifier and under heat. This helps for 2 things. Speed (drying time), and spoiling (such as fungus or other bacteria).

    I didnt take as many pics as i would have liked for this, but next time i do a batch ill endeavor to do it.

    WHATS NEEDED
    1: meat.
    2: spices (and salt)
    3: vinegar
    4: drying cabinet or something
    5: plastic containers
    6: clean towel(s)

    OK, meat.. You can use most any piece of red meat you can find. The traditonal cuts are rump and neck (forgotten its exact name). You have the choice of getting it pre-cut, or getting a huge ass lump of it and cutting it yourself.. Any butcher will cut if for you, and probably do a better job than you !

    What i got was a 2.25kg scotch (rib eye for the yanks) is a rib cut, bit more fatty, but full of flavor ! I also got just over a kilo of rump as its a good meat for this.
    You MUST ! cut along the grain. You can still cure meat thats normally cut across the grain, but it falls apart while drying and just end up being crap / not consistant as you have too many different muscles in the one piece.

    With that said.. Prepare your meat by removing as much fat and tendon as possible. Tendon (or "sinew") is the thin white strip that is between muscles and also between the fat and meat layer. This step is important.
    If you have meat thats along the grain, you can make a small cut at the top, and rip it off.. If its across the grain, you cant. So you manually have to cut it.. VERY time consuming and a bit wasteful.
    And have a DAMN sharp knife. It will save you much sweat.


    Click to view full size!


    Vinegar.. This does 2 things.. Disolve the sinew and open the meats pours up. Theres several ways you can do this, ill discribe them all at the end.. So please stay with me ;)
    The more tendon / sinew you can remove, the LESS time needed in the vinegar. Some ppl use 1/3 white raw vinegar, 2/3 hot water, some use straight cold wine over night in the fridge. The point here is to soak the meat to loosen it up a bit to aid moisture to escape, but you can treat it to accept some flavor, but id STRONGLY suggest not trying wine.. Get a base line of what you like first..
    Its much like brewing beer.. Build up over time.

    I used a malt vinegar and let them sit for 30mins, and lightly washed them in HOT water under the tap, just to get most of the goop off. This helps it keep some of the flavor in, and my soaking it for 30mins instead of "washing" them clean (some say no more than 5mins), vinegar is left inside the meat, which REALLY helps fight off any possible mold / fungus later on.


    Click to view full size!


    Click to view full size!


    Once your meat has been treated, you need to wash it clean and dry it. Use a new clean tea-towel or something that the wife wont bitch about. As long as its clean. Pat it dry in the towels.

    Have a bunch of plastic containers ready. Old ice cream containers will work a treat. Make sure they all seal. Even a bunch of old take away containers are great.

    Place the meat in, not over lapping or touching, cover the whole lot with rock salt. Turn the pieces over so they have a good share covering it.
    Some sites / people will recommend you use a bed of salt, you literally bury it. This will REALLY help, but unless you love salty biltong, id suggest against it. The salt is a de-hydrater. All it does is pull moisture out of the meat. More salt = faster drying. Because the modern world has this wonderful invention called "houses" and "fridges" the chances of bugs and germs getting in is almost nil. Remember that this was done over 400 years ago in dirt.. Thus, LOTS of salt.

    Drying time can take from 4hrs to 24hrs. Depending on the salt. Its no crime to have hardly any salt and let it take longer, but your meat will come out a bit tougher. More salt helps the meat cure "moister" to some extent. Again, its about experimenting whats right for you. I personally have ~1 heaped table spoon per big steak.. thats about 750g worth of steak.. So its a fairly large piece.

    Make sure all your containers seal, as the juice is escaping will make your fridge smell funky. You will get a fair bit of juice run off. So keep an eye on it and if required, pour it out. It might be fairly thick, or it could be runny like water.. Depends how you washed and dried your meat.

    I left mine for about 16hrs.

    Biltong spice. This is where you have to choose what you like.
    Base idea: ground Coriander Seeds, rock salt, bi-carb soda. The rest is up to you.
    500g coriander, big table spoon of bicarb (this stops fungus but wont effect taste at all) and rocksalt.. prolly half a cup almost. Mix to your preference.
    I also added bbq roasted Paprika (38g bottle) and a mild bbq spice (35g bottle).
    Mix well.. Bingo, you just made Biltong spice. You can use most anything.. Chilli powder, pepper corns, hell, cinnamon if thats your thing.. DONT TASTE IT !! it will taste like ass. Put the Coriander in a bowl or microwave safe thing, heat it up so its quite warm.. THEN mix everything together, and only after your meat has been washed and dried again.

    I should note that when i put in the fridge with salt, i put some spice onto the meat.. Like a light dusting. Helps with flavor absorption. This isnt required.. Experiment with 2 batches, see which one you prefer.
    If you use straight salt, you can probably get away with just drying and coating with spice.
    Mine tends to have a goo at the bottom.. Just a mix of the vinegar and the spice mix.. Thats the only reason i give them a quick wash.
    Once patted dry, mix the hot coriander with the rest of your mix and coat each piece.
    A flat tray does this well.. Sorta like battering fish almost. You could put them into a big bowl and mix them around, but theres no guarantee you will get an even coating, and the salt tends to no stick properly.. Again, find what works best for you.


    Click to view full size!


    Your ready to hand your meat. Paper clips work fantastically for this. 55c got me a box of 100, which i used about 25 for this lot.. almost 3.5kg total.

    hang your meat, DONT let them touch each other, and bingo.. your all set.

    You have a few options here too. Cool dark and dry is perfect. You dont want direct sunlight as it can dry on one spot more than the other, and it REALLY dries it fast. Thats not a problem really, just something to note.


    Click to view full size!


    The longer you can dry it for, the more spice it absorbs. Expect 3 to 7 days, upwards of 10 in some cases.. No big deal.
    You do want a nice breeze though. My setup has a light to stop fungus growing, and 2 fly-screen mesh sides to allow ample air movement. Some people even put small fans either inside the dryer, or a desk fan outside blowing across to aid air movement which helps the drying and consistency of the dry / flavor.
    A 120mm slow rpm fan or a 80mm fan would do great if thats whats needed.

    Once again, its ALL personal and what works for you. Ive read that some people use a card board box with a few hole poked into the top and bottom and let convection do its thing.. Dark, not much air, but supposedly produced great product.. Its all different for every person.

    You can make a box fairly easily out of a old computer case im guessing. 1kg of meat would fix inside it.. few red LEDs and a slow case fan. Bingo.
    Oh, make sure you gut the thing first.. and tape up any big holes or apply some filters. Know the foam sheet that mobos come on in the box ? ive used that as filter sheet before, worked DAMN well. so use your head.

    Ive seen a clothes horse with a huge sheet of fly screen over it and some clips to secure it.
    Please note that the first few days, when most of the moisture comes out, has quite a funky smell. So try not to do it in doors, else do it in a room you wont use for 2 or 3 days.. After that its fine.

    Summary is this..
    -Get some meat
    -wash it with vinegar (straight or mixed, i use straight malt personally), let it sit for 5mins to 1hr (i let sit for 30mins),
    -put it in PLASTIC containers with salt to dry in the fridge (i wash lightly before i do that in HOT water) metal trays + vinegar + salt.. guess the result.
    -scrape meat clean or wash meat lightly.
    -dust with your spice
    -hang up for a few days till its dry enough to bend and not be "mushy". Dry longer for a "mature" flavor. It will almost break when you bend it.

    Your spice should be...
    -200g Ground Coriander Seeds
    -1 teaspoon bi-carb soda
    -rock salt to "visual flavor".

    thats ok for 1kg meat. Also add some praprika (15g or about half a bottle of those masterfoods things you see) any anything else you wanna throw in. Try to restrict it to about 2 or possibly 3 and your set. Say a hot paprika and some chilli seeds, or roasted pepper corns and half a bottle of steak seasoning,, etc..
     
  2. pugsley

    pugsley Member

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    Dam that looks tasty. There was a Biltong thread around but its always good to get a new perspective on it.

    Is it something you really have to keep an eye on once its hanging? I'm starting to get into preserving meats and this would be a nice little project. However i'm away over Christmas. So if it needs watching i will have to wait until after i come back.
     
  3. OP
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    Quan-Time

    Quan-Time Member

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    as long as you take precautions when preparing, you should only have to check it when your hungry ;)

    Use a plastic or metal chopping board not wood. Ive not tried, but i hear wood can hold germs if not washed properly, and can spread them to the meat when you are preparing..

    Just hang it and forget about it.. Its not all that hard to make either, hardest part is just trimming the meat im preparation for the vinegar.
     
  4. OP
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    Quan-Time

    Quan-Time Member

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    update.. I had some pieces which have already dried. Came out great.. I could have left them longer in the vinegar to get a .. stronger taste, and it would hava also paid to rub the spice in, rather than dust / put it on.. Like, massage it into the meat a bit.. But otherwise, this batch came out great.


    Click to view full size!


    You can see the meat turns black once its dont properly.. You can feel its either firm, tough or sort of squishy.
    On the bigger piece, you can see me squashing it and its bulging a bit. This makes it more chewy and tender in the middle. Nothing wrong with it, its all personal.. Those who like their meat raw (blue) to medium rare will love the taste and texture of it.


    Click to view full size!


    Most of my pieces are packed now.. This is exactly 1kg. Ive got about 250g more still drying as they were BIG pieces and need another day or 2 to complete.. Bit TOO soft for my liking.

    But there you have it.. Spice was great, but not enough smokey flavour for me.. Maybe next time ill use double the amount and a touch less coriander.. But the bbq spice was the perfect blend.. Not salty / over powering, a good balance.. And maybe some chilli next time.. wait and see..

    Beers, bbq and biltong at my place this weekend i think.. see what my mates say ;)
     
  5. pugsley

    pugsley Member

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    If you hear some strange noises tonight dont worry too much. Its just me coming to steal your biltong! :lol:

    Looks great! Its just adding to the urge to give it a go myself.

    Your mates would be nuts to turn down and offer like that!
     
  6. Squatting_Tiger

    Squatting_Tiger Member

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    Looks fantastic. How long do you keep your Biltong for once packaged?
     
  7. matthew-r88

    matthew-r88 Member

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    yeah that looks awesome, the black might scare some ppl off but i'd give it a go for sure
     
  8. OP
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    Quan-Time

    Quan-Time Member

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    the blackness is cos of the malt vinegar i used.. if you use raw white vinegar, its got more red / pink texture.. Still dark, but you notice its more "meat coloured".

    @ pugs
    I have guard ferrets.. beware !

    @nick74
    as long as you want. Upwards of a few weeks is what it lasts me. But ive heard of ppl freezing batches for months then just putting it in the fridge over night for thawing.
    You could safely keep it for 6 weeks in the fridge im guessing. Just use a sealable bag or container. But if it lasts you longer than 2 weeks, you either didnt make it right coz it tastes like ass.

    You "chew" biltong much like chewing tabacco.. You dont just "chew chew swallow".. You chew it for about 5 mins till its fully broken down and has almost no texture left.. Then you swallow.. IT brings all the flavor out of it.

    If you just chew and swallow it, and end up eating heaps of it, you end up with a fairly sore gut the next morning.

    A nice beer works a treat.. or even a "sipping" wiskey or scotch. Just lightly wet your pallet with a VERY small sip every so often.. Make it taste fukin awesome. Its like a spicey beer stew in your mouth.
     
  9. Grimace22

    Grimace22 Member

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    i read somewhere not to use metal trays or containers when ur mixing up bicarb vinegar and meat, bad reaction. As far as having to watch the meat while it dries, not really as long as its not in humid climate and not touching other pieces then it should be ok, the 1st one or 2 days are the main threat to it going funny.

    Jerky from the shops just tastes like ass these days:)
     
  10. pugsley

    pugsley Member

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    Yep thats right. The acidic level of the marinade can react with the metal and spoil your marinade. I do any marinade in a plastic container.
     
  11. OP
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    Quan-Time

    Quan-Time Member

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    Thats one of the main reasons i make my own jerky. A few years ago a bunch of us did a HUGE bulk order. Was several hundred dollars and over a hundred kilos of meat. Ever since then ive really only liked the "real" stuff.

    You really cant beat the good stuff.

    I did mention to use plastic containers. Ive heard it end up tasting like you have alfoil woven into it otherwise.. Has a real "zing" to it.. Always use plastic containers.. Old 4litre icecream and chinese take away containers work great. Long as they seal.

    Salting also helps the "anti germ" process too. Its why fungus or mold cant grow directly on salt or sugar. It pulls the moisture right out of it. So while its still moist on the outside, it MAY contaminate.
    The fat takes AGES to dry out because its oil.. So the more fat you can remove, the better the end product because it dries evenly.
    The spice is also important because thats a protective layer. Its slightly salty to drive off moisture, and thus mold.

    Went to a mates house last night (phx for those that know him) and he instantly fell in love with it.
    The BEST part is, he has some old wine / home brew that turned to vinegar ! He does the "hops and barley" brewing. He used some wine yeast to experiment with a batch of wine which he didnt like.. Left it in the shed and it turned to vinegar.. He has since cooked with it, and said its the best stuff he has ever used.. Ive tasted a bit of it.. It is indeed REALLY high quality vinegar..
    So ive got a bit of a trade.. Ill do a batch for him and some for me ;)

    Should make some REALLY nice biltong. Need to finish this batch first
     
  12. stedyedy

    stedyedy Member

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    my biltong is sitting in the vinegar mixture right now!!

    Could have sworn i had had a bit bottle of malt vinegar at home but it looks like i was wrong so i just used white with hot water a tad of malt and even some balsamic

    will let you know how it turns out!
     
  13. scon

    scon Member

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    One of my friends has made an awesome biltong setup which I'll try and replicate. Once I do, I'll be sure to post here.
     
  14. OP
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    Quan-Time

    Quan-Time Member

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    awesome.. Take some pics if you could, would be great to compare ideas / recipes..

    Im almost thru my batch now, only a small portion left :(

    Im going to do up another batch, fairly much the same as previous, BUT with different spice mix.. Im happy with the prep, meat comes out nice, its just the way the spice tastes on the outside.

    Will obviously take me a few batches, but once i get it perfect "for me" ill say how i did it, and others can try / expand on it if you wish.

    I wanna try some chili, since i grow my own.. I got like 15 varieties of chili growing in my greenhouse ;) Was even able to get a "ghost / naga / jolokia" seed. Its growing nicely. Still tiny, but should yield some interesting dishes ;)

    When the whole lot is more mature, ill post some pics on that.
     
  15. bainer

    bainer Member

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    Mmmm, edible case mod.
     
  16. Glide

    Glide Member

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    yum. We just built a biltong box out of a bunnings toolbox, installed a light, some aluminium hanging rods and a 90mm fan. Makes fantastic biltong :)

    will take pics when I get a chance.
     
  17. cyanpixie

    cyanpixie Member

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    lekker soos 'n cracker.

    Dude, I could do with a nice piece of Biltong now! You should try making kangaroo biltong - tastes great as well, with an Aussie twist. :thumbup:
     
  18. OP
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    Quan-Time

    Quan-Time Member

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    yer my next batch will have a few pieces of roo. Im going to trade out the bbq spice mix for something else.. Not quite sure what it will be, but somethin.. With age it got progressively more salty. Not in a bad way, something like salty chips. You know its there, its ok, but too many and you know about it.
    I know i want to put some chili in there, and possibly some sort of bbq spice, not sure HOW ill achieve it tho... Im going to experiment.

    @ Glide
    If you get some pics, post em up, id be very interested in checking out other peoples versions of a booth.
     
  19. MagyaR

    MagyaR Member

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    I love Saffa biltong (stokies), to the point where my jaws hurt, the chilli flavoured one is my fave.
     
  20. Grimace22

    Grimace22 Member

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    ive found having a bulb(think a 60W) dries the meat out too fast and makes it tougher, so now i dont bother with it and just hang the meat and let nature do the rest.
     

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