Biltong has been around since the early days of the Voortrekkers. As there was no refrigeration, air-dried meat sustained the Afrikaners pioneering across the African continent during the Great trek between 1835-1846. There are many biltong recipes, but the process is still the same. Sugar, vinegar, salt and coriander, with the addition of ‘special spices’, were in abundance in the Cape Colony. Most recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and over the years each person has perfected his or her own recipe for perfect biltong.
Louise Gillett, Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse‘s chef, says that her guiding principle in cooking is knowing where her food comes from. With limited large predators, sensitive vegetation and the necessity for fences, Elandsberg Private Nature Reserve, in which Bartholomeus Klip Farmhouse is situated, needs to manage the game populations on the reserve to ensure that both vegetation and wildlife are able to flourish. The management team does this by assessing antelope numbers and implementing game capture, animal sales and selective culling.
Having a back yard teaming with springbok and eland is a perfect opportunity to explore venison and create dishes that are innovative, delicious and healthy. Because the free roaming antelope are not subjected to artificial hormones, antibiotics, pollutants or genetic manipulation, venison is the perfect low fat, healthy, organic meat.
Join Louise as she shares her fantastic South African venison biltong recipe with us:
- 2 kg silverside venison
- ¼ cup coarse salt
- 1 cup whole coriander seeds
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar, plus 100 ml extra
- 1 litre water
- wire or plastic hooks for hanging the venison
Cut the venison with the grain, at an angle, into 5cm-thick pieces. Mix the salt, coriander seeds, pepper and brown sugar. Spread some of this mixture over the bottom of a deep rectangular dish and place the larger strips of venison at the bottom. While layering the remaining strips, first sprinkle the mixture over each layer and then, before packing the next layer, rub the mixture into each biltong strip. At the end, pour over the vinegar, this helps to preserve the meat. Allow to stand for a few hours. The longer you allow the meat to stand the saltier it will become.
In a separate bowl, mix the 100ml vinegar and the water. Rinse the meat with the vinegar mixture to remove surplus salt. Hook the meat on wire or plastic hooks and hang in a dry ventilated room. We have an old bread cupboard, which works well. Make sure that the pieces do not touch. You can make use of a fan to speed up the drying process.
The dryness of the biltong depends on the length of hanging time, so the less time hanging the wetter the meat will be. We like a moist biltong so we hang ours for 3–6 days. It is best to make this in the winter – it works better in the cooler months, as the air humidity should be a little damp. Venison is a lean meat so it will dry much faster than beef.
To serve: Cut the pieces of biltong into bite-sized chunks.
Interested in learning more tips and tricks from Louise Gillett? Sign up for cooking classes at Bartholomeus Klip.
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