Preserving meat dates back to ancient times and the indigenous peoples of Southern Africa, such as the Khoikhoi, preserved meat by slicing it into strips, curing it with salt, and hanging it up to dry so that there would be food when there was nothing to eat.
Biltong was traditionally made during the colder months for the best results. The cold, dry air typically dried out the biltong much more effectively, and in the best possible food safety environment. Mould and bacterial risk are at a natural minimum, and thicker biltong cuts can be hung to dry slowly for a richer texture, fuller flavour and dark colour. Heat has only been introduced into the process in recent years, and traditional biltong makers still stand by the fact that heat makes for an inferior end result.
Now, biltong is eaten mostly as a snack and people are incorporating it into recipes like muffins and pot bread and even salads. I love to chop up fresh garlic and lots of chillies and stir it into a bowl of wet sliced biltong and cover with Willow Creek Lemon Infused Olive Oil, let it soak overnight and then serve – it’s really quite delicious.
It is a wonderful teething ring for babies and it is now available with less salt for teething babies.
It is a high protein food and is often taken on hikes and camping. Just remember: biltong doesn’t come cheap and your yield will be half of what you started out with, as the meat dries out.
The word biltong is from the Dutch bil (“rump”) and tong (“strip” or “tongue”) and was developed by the Dutch settlers who arrived in South Africa in the 17th century.
Let’s cook with J’Something.
Serves: 6 (12 Slices)
Hands-on (preparation) time: 40 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes
550g wholemeal flour
200 g white flour
1 tsp. instant dry yeast
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground coriander
100g biltong shavings
300ml Castle Milk Stout
Pre-heat the oven to 180’C.
Put dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix together well.
Pour the Castle Milk Stout and buttermilk into a jug and whisk lightly to combine.
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon to form a sticky dough.
Tip dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until soft and smooth.
Shape dough into a round dome shape and place into a clean, lightly oiled bowl.
Cover and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes to rise.
Once risen, slash the surface of the dome with an X mark, this allows the bread to expand and release air.
Then place on a lightly greased baking tray in the centre of the oven and bake for 60 min, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
Remove from oven onto a wire rack to cool.
Allow to cool completely, about 20 min, before slicing. [This resting period is vital, to allow for thorough baking through.]