The Biltong Recipe Process
You might have some time to spare. Maybe not enough to scroll through a five-paragraph essay about Bull & Cleaver and how we came to be (you can find that here). But you want to learn more about the biltong making process – what the key ingredients are, how the meat is cured, how long to dry the steaks, and how to slice biltong – we’re going to cut to the chase.
Classic Biltong Recipe Ingredients.
The ingredients for a classic biltong recipe are quite simple. You may find other recipes that call for other rubs and spices, but if you’re aiming for a quality beef-centric flavor (like Bull & Cleaver’s signature Traditional Biltong) then you’ll be right at home here. Stock up on the following:
- 4 tablespoons malt vinegar
- 3 tablespoons coriander seed (2 tablespoons toasted and ground)
- 2 tablespoons coarse/flaky salt
- 1.5 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 3 lbs top round steak (makes about 16 oz dried biltong).
The Biltong Recipe
Getting Started and Curing The Steak
The spices are a simple mixture, but when it comes to high quality steak for this project, top round is reliable and easy to find at your local grocery store. Especially if this is your first go at it. As for fat content, some folks like to keep the fat, others like to cut it out for a leaner final product. However, cutting out the fat can change the flavor profile and take a little bit of the biltong magic out of the picture. Here goes:
- Using a medium pan, toast 3 tablespoons coriander over medium heat until lightly golden. Remove from heat. Wait to cool, then grind coarse to fine.
- Cut the steak into 1-1.5 inch slabs. Set aside.
- Add spices in a small bowl.
- 2 tablespoons coarse/flaky salt.
- 1.5 teaspoons ground black pepper.
- 2 tablespoons toasted and ground coriander.
- Mix spices together. Sprinkle the seasoning on all sides of the steaks.
- Add malt vinegar to a shallow dish/container (with cover). Add seasoned meat to the dish. Roll the meat in vinegar, then cover.
- Refrigerate for up to 24 hours, flipping the meat once every 8 hours in order to soak up the malt vinegar evenly.
- Take a nap, hang out with friends, tell them all about your biltong project. If you’re craving biltong in between this step and the next ones: Bull & Cleaver can help you out with the best biltong on this side of the Atlantic.
Air Drying Biltong
You have a few options for drying the steaks. You can buy an air drying box, build your own biltong box,or use a hang dry method in a safe spot in your house.
Keep in mind that steaks will dry differently depending on where you live. In a warm and arid place like Southern California? The drying time will be shorter than, say, a humid summer in Chicago. The many variables are often difficult to calculate if you’re air drying out in the open, so something more climate controlled can be helpful (though expensive and time consuming). Once you figure out the best option we can hop back to the recipe:
- Remove the steaks from the refrigerator and with towels or paper towels, pat the meat dry.
- In a well-ventilated place, hang the steaks by a hook, ensuring no steaks are touching. Place some newspaper below the meat to catch any drippings. A small oscillating fan will keep air moving around the steaks. This will also help prevent mold buildup.
- Let dry for 2 days. Check to see progress. If still moist on inside, continue air drying the steaks, checking every 2-3 days until fully dried. (Your mileage may vary. Bull & Cleaver has a two week air drying process to really bring together that biltong flavor.)
Slicing Biltong Technique
First things first: it’s important to slice against the grain of the meat. That way it will be easier to slice thinly and will maintain its composure, rather than shredded bits. Using a sharp kitchen knife you can get slices as thinly as you’re able (2-4 mm).
If you have a slicer, then you’ll have better control of how thin these slices can be. However, at this stage it’s likely you’re going to rely on your knife skills. Don’t worry if it’s not as thin as you’re used to with a Bull & Cleaver Traditional Sliced order. As we say, practice makes perfect biltong.
(You can also keep the slab as is, just like our Bull & Cleaver Traditional Biltong Slab)
What’s the best way to store biltong?
Okay! Hard part is over. Now the hardest part: not eating all of the biltong and saving some for later. You can probably wolf this down in an afternoon watching a game with a few friends, but if you’re hoping to enjoy for later your best bet is to store in a vacuum sealed bag.
Biltong has a long shelf life in vacuum sealed bags so long as it’s stored in a cool, dry place. Once you open that bag, display a profound sense of self-control, and wish to store some for later: seal the bag and keep in the refrigerator.
Enjoying Your Biltong Masterpiece.
Now, would you look at that. You made your own biltong! An easy process? Not exactly. A worthwhile and patient one? We think so. That’s what keeps us going. It connects us back to our South African roots as well as the flavors that remind us of so many great snacks that came before. What you’ve just made is similar to how we do it: in small batches.
If this seems too daunting a process, no worries. We’re happy to deliver America’s best biltong directly to you any time of the year. Sometimes it’s nice to know how the sausage – or in this case, the biltong – is made. Want a great variety of healthy snacks? Give our taster pack a try. Need a snack that can go for the long haul? Fuel up with a fantastic deal on our bulk order. See how our biltong stacks up and order today!