So, you want to know the best beef for biltong, The most important part of a biltong recipe! Great biltong starts with the best quality meat you can find, I can’t stress this enough. Make sure that if you are planning on giving this a go you get the best beef from your butcher that you can afford.
What cut of beef is biltong?
Bil – tong translates as bil meaning “rump/buttock” and tong referring to a “strip/tongue”. Essentially Biltong means dried cured meat strips, animal tongues are never used.
Biltong is usually beef silverside or topside that is marinated and air-dried to traditional South African spices including rock salt, pepper, roasted abs coarsely ground coriander. The meat is then air-dried and sliced ready to enjoy with a nice cold beer or glass of wine.
The best beef for biltong
Biltong is most commonly made today from beef because it’s widespread and easy to get from any butcher. The best beef for biltong is the finest cuts – fillet, sirloin, or steaks cut from the hip such as topside or silverside. Other cuts can be used, but the results can end up being chewier.
For our Lekker Bru biltong, we use silverside Ruby Beef from a farm on the outskirts of Exeter, at Broadclyst. The cattle are reared on grass form meadows along the River Clyst and our supplier takes pride in rearing the animals to the highest RSPCA welfare standards. Our beef is dry-aged on the bone for a minimum of 3 weeks before being expertly cut and prepared by our in-house butchers.
I often get asked can you make biltong with brisket? In short NO, Brisket does NOT work. The quality and texture of the meat is just not good enough. Although it is possible to make biltong from brisket, it will end up dry and very chewy so this is not the best beef for biltong.
Can you make biltong in a dehydrator?
Yes, you can make really good biltong in a food dehydrator, but you need to make sure you give the meat enough space for the air to circulate properly. A common mistake that people make is to use big thick cuts of meat crammed in, overfilling the space.
For the best beef for biltong you need to give it time and space. Space for the air to move around each piece of meat individually and time for the meat to dry slowly. For more details on getting this right check out our blog on dehydrator vs biltong box, how to dry biltong fast.
When it comes to flavour, biltong is like wine. The two key ingredients that create the classic African taste of biltong are meat and coriander seeds. YES, there are other important ingredients. But for the best beef for biltong, you can’t get by without these two key ingredients.
There are tons of recipes online and if you want to become a Biltong making guru you’ll naturally need to try a few and experiment through trial and error. There is no single recipe that is the best, but we really like ours. Give it a try and let us know how you get on!