Over the years many people have in inquired about the perfect biltong recipe.
Truth be told, there is no perfect biltong recipe. Everyone’s tastes differ and there are many different biltong recipes and styles of biltong making.
Now many of your reading this already know what biltong is but for those of you who don’t this wiki article sums it up quite well.
The main barrier to entry is that most folks think that it is really difficult to make so they just buy instead.
Now, in South Africa, where biltong is available everywhere it does not make sense to make your own unless there is a very specific biltong recipe that you like to use or if it’s hunting season and you enjoy venison biltong.
In the USA and other parts of the world however buying biltong can get pretty expensive. Also, due to FDA and USDA regulations the product you buy online is not really quite the same as those lovely long sticks that you were used to in South Africa.
For all of these reasons I started making my own.
My basic technique is as follows:-
Make a batch of spice (coriander, salt, pepper, brown sugar and bicarb) enough to last a number of batches
Buy some top round (London Broil), bottom round, eye of round – it really does not matter which.
Cut them into nice thick strips.
Layer with vinegar and the spice mix.
Refrigerate for 12 – 24 hours.
I was determined not to rely on imported spices like those from Crown National and instead made up my own spice mix without all of the MSG, colorants and preservatives.
There are a number of methods that are used. Some folks lay the spices in really thick for an hour or two then scrape them off and hang.
Others soak for longer but do a hot vinegar dip.
Some do very little spicing at first and only just before hanging cover the meat in the spice mix.
Each will swear by their method. What it comes down to is finding a method that works for you and then sticking with it. When you’re hanging up to 30lbs of meat at a time one is reluctant to make big changes that could result in an inferior product.
What follows here is an assortment of recipes I have gathered over the years (not my wording these are verbatim from the various sources). Some just show the spice mix, other talk more about technique. This is just to illustrate that while there are some rules of thumb there are a lot of variations too. This will help you formulate your spice mix. See my post on making a biltong dryer.
Contact me if you have any questions.
Biltong Recipe 1
Sufficient spice for 2kgs Beef.
0.5 cup Brown Sugar
15g Whole Coriander (roasted slightly) and then ground
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1,75 tsp Freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
If your last mix had the salt already in, then add to the above 0.75cup coarse salt.
Take rock salt (coarse salt) and liberally sprinkle it over the meat. I usually cover the meat totally… then leave it for an hour, NOT LONGER
pour white wine vinegar in a deep bowl… you’ll see why in a bit
Scrape the salt off the meat after the hour, and dip/drag it through the vinegar…
Then put your spices on… I usually only use ground coriander, black pepper and sometimes a bit of crushed chilli… rub it into the meat and hang up in biltong box for 3 days
If you wanted to use whole coriander, you could, but this tastes better roasted…. to roast coriander you just put the pieces in a pan (without oil) and keep it over the heat for a few minutes…
Biltong Recipe 2
• 12.5 kg beef (top round or sirloin or London broil or eye of round)
• 560 g fine salt
• 125 ml brown sugar
• 25 ml bicarbonate of soda
• 10 ml saltpetre (optional)
• 12.5 ml ground black pepper
• 125 ml coarsely ground coriander
• 250 ml red wine vinegar
• 2.5 litres warm water
Cut the meat along the natural dividing lines of the muscles of the particular piece of meat you have chosen. Cut the meat into strips of about 2″ thick and as long as you like, always cutting the meat with the grain.
Mix the salt, sugar, bicarbonate of soda (this makes the biltong tender), saltpetre, pepper and coriander together and rub the mixture into the strips of meat.
Layer the meat – with the more bulky pieces at the bottom – in a non-reactive container and sprinkle a little vinegar over each layer.
Leave the meat in a cool place for 12 hours or more, depending on how salty you want the meat to be (you may need to experiment a little until you find the right time to let the meat ‘marinade’.
Mix the water and vinegar and dip the biltong into it (this makes it shiny and dark). Once this is complete, the meat is ready to dry. Pat the pieces of meat dry and hang them up on S-shaped hooks – or use pieces of string – about 2 ” apart (so that the air can circulate freely among the strips of meat). There are many theories on how to dry biltong. Probably the most popular is to hang it in a cool, dry place with an oscillating fan blowing on it. It is very important that the air is dry. If there is too much moisture in the air, the meat will spoil
Biltong Recipe 3
• 10kg game
• 250 ml coarse salt
• 100 ml brown sugar
• 8 ml saltpetre
• 12,5 ml bicarbonate soda
• 7,5 ml pepper
• 100 ml whole coriander, toasted, ground and sieved (see tip)
• Vinegar to taste
Biltong Recipe 4
• Good Quality Beef
• Rock Salt
• Coarse Ground Black Pepper
• Coarse Ground Coriander
• Vinegar (preferably Apple-Cider vinegar)
First, be sure to sterilize all your hooks, knives, and working surfaces by washing well in hot water and soap. Get some half-inch thick strips of beef. Make sure it’s cut with the grain. The pieces should be about 6 inches long. Liberally sprinkle rock-salt on each side of the pieces of meat and let them stand for an hour. The longer you let it stand the saltier it will become. After the hour, scrape off all the excess salt with a knife (don’t soak it in water!). Then get some vinegar – preferably apple-cider vinegar, but any vinegar will do. Put some vinegar in a bowl and brush (do not dip) the strips of meat with the vinegar – just so that the meat is covered in the vinegar. Hold the biltong up so that the excess vinegar drips off.
Then sprinkle ground pepper and ground coriander over the meat on all sides. If you want that special tasting biltong then try the special spice mixtures used by South African butchers which is available from most butcher shops. These spice mixtures give excellent and consistent results with no salting necessary – just sprinkle the spice on, and hang.
Biltong Recipe 5
– 5 pounds of beef (eye of round) or a similar cut
– 1 cup rock salt
– 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
– 1 cup coriander seeds – toasted and crushed
– 1 and a half cups of Malt vinegar mixed with 3/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce
– Black pepper
1. Cut the eye of round beef into strips with the fat on the outside.
2. Lightly cover the meat with the rock salt and lay down in a plastic container and put in the fridge for about 15 minutes or so.
3. In another plastic tub or bowl pour the malt vinegar and Worcestershire sauce.
4. Add the sugar and the bicarbonate of soda to the brine.
5. Mix the brine well.
6. Now pour the toasted coriander seeds into a Kitchen Aid machine and pulse, just enough to break the seeds in half and to make a little powder. You can also put the seeds in a Ziploc bag and hammer them with a kitchen mallet to crush them.
7. Remove the tub with the salted steaks from the fridge and remove all the rock salt from each steak. The meat should be firm right now. Lay all the steaks with the salt removed aside.
8. Now dunk all the steaks into the brine and let them sit there for about 5 to 10 minutes.
9. Start removing each steak and squeeze each steak to remove liquid, but not too much liquid!
10. Do this to all the steaks and lay the aside
11. Now sprinkle each steak first with the coriander seeds then with the black pepper to taste. Repeat for both sides.
12. Now hang each steak in your biltong box or any safe place. Make sure that the pieces do not touch each other. If you don’t have a biltong box you can use a fold up clothes hanger and have a fan blow on the meat.
13. let cure for 4 to 7 days
14. Remove dried biltong and enjoy