Genuine South African Biltong

There are actually a lot of other recipes on the internet for South African biltong, which is a raw, dried meat, usually using the London Broil cut of meat. I have created a process that really works for me, and gives us a good amount of biltong every week for plenty of “padkos” (road food).

I have a standing order at Whole Foods for 5 pounds of grassfed London Broil. I pick it up on a Friday, usually. What I like about the meat at my Whole Foods in Chapel Hill is that it comes from a local farm (I have actually met the farmer!), and it has never been frozen. With the buying power of Whole Foods, I can really get an ideal cut of meat. I used to only buy directly from the farmer, but because his customer pool is so small, it was always frozen first. So, there you have it. Whole Foods is doing some weird stuff nowadays with organic standards, but I am happy with the meat situation, so that is what I am doing for now.

So, first, I cut the London Broil steaks into two narrower strips. I cut with the grain so that my strips are about 1 inch thick and maybe two inches wide.

Next, I use a 9 x 13 pyrex dish to douse my strips in raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Get the strips very coated on all sides, as this will retard the growth of molds and will help your meat to cure naturally. I find the 9 x 13 pan size ideal for totally coating the meat, while minimizing the amount of apple cider vinegar I need to use. I let it sit about 5 minutes in this ACV bath.

While the meat sits, I grind the spices which give biltong its characteristic flavor. I use just three: salt, whole coriander, and whole peppercorns. I use half a cup of grey celtic sea salt, one third cup of whole coriander, and one fourth cup of whole peppercorns. I put all of that in the baby bullet food mill using the dry blade. You could also use a coffee grinder, but I must say I am partial to the baby bullet. I do make everything in it.

After grinding the spices, I grab the mixture by handfuls, and coat the meat like this.

You can place the meat in the fridge with just paper towels on top for 24 hours to “dry age”. But, I find that it is not necessary for developing flavor. It will give you more time and flexibility, though, so feel free to store the meat for a bit before transferring somewhere for the meat to dry out.

Now, you can just take a paper clip (partly unfolded), and hang these strips up anywhere in your house that you think they will be undisturbed for about two weeks. I like to have my meat ready every week, so we made a little box with a fan on the bottom. We fashioned it out of some cheap shelves that were sitting around doing nothing! Here is the cupboard we made.

I have a fan just lying on its side on the floor, not oscillating at the back/bottom of this cupboard. All open spaces are covered with screening, and attached with velcro. It is probably not necessary, but I really hate to think about anything like flies touching the meat. I always imagine that they are pooping on the food, and that’s so yucky.

I also have little hooks holding up two parallel dowels running along both sides of the top of the cupboard, and that is where the meat hangs. It takes 2-3 days to dry out. And Voila! Biltong!

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