Most people will tell you that biltong is an “African form of jerkey”, these people are NOT to be trusted. To say biltong is a form of jerky is like saying a fine prosciutto is a form of pork jerky. Yes it is that bad. The good news is while up there with the finest cured meats, by using only red meats and a unique process biltong is ready in 4-7 days vs. 6 months or more for many cured meats that use pork.
Biltong was started by the Dutch Boers in South Africa, it is a basic form of dry pickling in a manner of speaking. There are only 5 ingredients in traditional biltong. First a red meat of your choice. Beef is fine, venison is great, if you can get bison more power to you, elk, you get it, read meat. No squirrels, rabbits, chickens, pigs, RED MEAT ONLY. The meat is cut about 1 inch by 1 inch thick or even thicker, not thin like jerky.
You then lightly coat the meat in apple cider vinegar, and salt it about like you’d salt a soft pretzel, you add fresh ground black pepper and ground coriander. You hold the meat chilled over night in the fridge. The meat is then cured not directly dehydrated.
In the bush this is done in the dry season by hanging the meat in a shaded area with good airflow. In modern times you simply hang the meat in an air conditioned room with good air flow. Wait 3-4 days and start checking it for doneness, just a bit pink in the center is great. But if you go thick enough you can nail it with a steak house medium rare this is off the hook like the picture above.
We will have a lot more on biltong in the future but for now this is enough.
So why did David and I call this show Biltong For Breakfast. Well, it certainly isn’t that the show is going to be about biltong all the time. It is more that we both are cooks, not bakers. We don’t bake bread, make cakes, whip up cookies and crap like that. No instead we focus on meats, veggies, some starches and copious amounts of top shelf adult cocktails. We are also big on fish, game, wild caught, home grown, etc. So the name just seemed fitting.
We are likely a few weeks from our ignaragial episode but until then you can sign up for our email list, subscribe to our youtube channel or join our facebook page to stay in the loop.
To tide you over and teach you more about biltong here is one of my very old video series on making biltong. These videos are about 9 years old and so they are way below the quality of what we will be producing, still I thought since we are launching a site called Biltong For Breakfast, it would be good for initial visitors to know what biltong is all about.
~ Jack Spirko
Biltong for Breakfast