Friday, November 2, 2007

The Box

Most of you know of Steve's prowess in the woods, and of the magnificent mounts he has tucked away in his man cave in the basement. This year is no exception...he's having another trophy buck mounted by a local taxidermist. BUT...this time he was adamant that we use more of the venison instead of handing it out to anyone who'll take it.

We toyed with the idea of buying a mincer and jerky extruder (he says all men enjoy a good jerky once in a while), but that sounded a whole lot like work, so we scrapped that idea. We thought of buying a sausage maker, but that sounded too much like a commitment (he says no man wants to play with his sausage for that long). So what do you get when you're too lazy to mince, dehydrate and case your own meat?

A biltong box!

Biltong, for those not in the know, is a South African delicacy. It's a spiced, salted and air dried hunk of meat. It's texture and appearance doesn't vary much from traditional American jerky, but it's taste is unique and addicting. So, Steve, my Italian Stallion, and Captain Sparrow set out to build a biltong box. They carefully did their research on the best method of construction, while I did my research on the best combination of spices. Our maiden biltong voyage went off with a hitch. Lucky for us, we had, not one, but two biltong experts visiting and both assured us that with a little tweaking here and there we were well on our way to making excellent biltong. Yes, it was lekker, indeed!

But Steve is not convinced. He claims to like it, but hasn't touched it since his first taste. He says he prefers something with a more distinct flavor, like teriyaki (TERIYAKI! I think I just heard my Grampa roll over in his grave).

So, dear family in South Africa, please weigh in here. Can you suggest a way to flavor our biltong? Is there a way to infuse it with a teriyaki flair? If I can't convince Steve that biltong is a meaty gift from God, I'm going to have to make it by myself next time and I can't afford to lose a typing digit when I'm on the cusp of my blog writing career. I also don't want to look at that sad, empty biltong box in my basement for much longer.

Please don't make me beg.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mart!

Being useless domestically, but still a big fan of biltong myself (staple part of my diet) I have a responsibility to assist in finding a good biltong recipe. Chatted to some experts at work and they recommend a similar recipe to the below:


Beef (Preferably Silverside/London Broil)
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 (silverside - called London Broil in the US). 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 dip the strips of meat in the vinegar for a second or so, 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.

Once you have done this, the meat is ready to dry. There are several methods of drying. One is to hang it up on a line in a cool place and have a fan blow on it. This method is a bit difficult because if the air is humid the meat can spoil. The method I use is a home-made ‘Biltong Box’. This is basically a sealed wooden box (you can use cardboard if you like) about 40cm across and 1m high, with holes in the sides and a 60w lightbulb inside. Just hang the meat at the top of the box, and leave the lightbulb on at the bottom. The heat from the lightbulb helps dry the meat (even in humid weather) in about 3-4 days. Remember, the box must be closed on all 6 sides except for a few holes. The whole theory behind this method is that hot dry air rises thus drying the biltong. The holes are quite important as they promote good air circulation in the box.

You’ll know when the biltong is ready when it is quite hard, but still a bit moist inside. Of course, some people like it ‘wet’ and others like it ‘dry’. It’s all a matter of taste. Most South Africans I know like it in between - basically just a bit red inside. If it has gone green, then the meat has spoiled (i.e. don’t eat it).

Variations include the above recipe, but add flavours like Worcestershire sauce, BBQ sauce, tabasco sauce, soy sauce, etc. Just brush these sauces on after applying the vinegar using a basting brush.

Good luck!!!!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, forgot to tell you who that was from: Your DARLING cousin, Em.

Bird said...

I was just going to say exactly what Emily said. Wow, her and I are so smart. All I know is I want a large portion of the end result. Keith and I went through one big slab of the venison biltong you sent yesterday and plan on going through the second slab tonight before mom and dad figure out it was supposed to be theirs.

Your darling, beautiful sister...Brighid.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Do you have copy writer for so good articles? If so please give me contacts, because this really rocks! :)

Anonymous said...

I keep listening to the news speak about getting free online grant applications so I have been looking around for the best site to get one.

Anonymous said...

Hello,nice post thanks for sharing?. I just joined and I am going to catch up by reading for a while. I hope I can join in soon.

Anonymous said...

Effectively, a submit will be your latest theme with this
computer registry linked concern. I owned by a person's findings and will thirstily enjoy your own forthcoming improvements. Merely announcing many thanks won't
only be sufficient, for any phenomenal lucidity in the composing.
Let me at once grab your feed to keep up-to-date with every updates.
My blog : Public Record