The Biltong adventure

I am so excited.

You know how there are extreme sports? The ones where you’re risking your life making jumps down a rocky, snowy hill and such?

Well I’m about to initiate myself into what I call extreme cooking. Dangerous, adrenaline-inducing, hazardous, risky–and I’m taking you on my journey, like it or not.

Look what came in the mail for me!

Biltong seasoning.

It came from a store called “The African Hut,” and their customer service rep has a lovely South African accent. Which is just as it should be, since this seasoning is going to be an intrinsic part of a South African treat.

My brother-in-law Mike is from South Africa, and his dad has been making biltong for years. I tasted it while on a road trip with Mike and Heidi, and promptly helped devour a whole bagful of it.

Think beef jerky, but a little different. Smaller pieces, incredible flavor. And homemade.

Are you scared yet?

Yes. I will be purchasing raw meat, slicing it up, seasoning it, and drying it out.

As long as I don’t give myself food poisoning, everything will be fine and dandy. And since I regularly submit myself to the risk of salmonella due to my unfettered love of cookie dough, cake dough, and any kind of dough (amen), my body is used to the danger.

As soon as I make a successful batch, I’ll post the instructions for y’all . . . probably followed by a million disclaimers. Such as 1) Prepare this at your own risk 2) Some government agency probably says something about the risks of cured meat 3) Please don’t get sick 4) Please don’t make this or consume it if you have a funny feeling in your big toe 5) It’s not my fault 6) Nothing is my fault.

The plan is to use the Biltong seasoning, and also to try and create my own seasoning. Because I understand that not everyone wants to drop $50 to buy a seasoning to make a potentially risky meat snack that they may not even like. I’ll include a thorough comparison of the two results.

Hold onto your hats, folks. And if you stop by our apartment unannounced, please be prepared for a potentially frightening vision–little strips of animal flesh hanging up everywhere.

22 thoughts on “The Biltong adventure

  1. Circe

    that looks wonderful, it may be that my coworker has just come back to her desk with a pot of very flagrant tea, but I feel like I smell this spice. I’m excited to see what you do with it

    Reply
  2. June

    I’ve been making homemade beef jerky for a couple of years now… and (knock on wood) we haven’t gotten sick yet. I loooooove my dehydrator!

    Reply
  3. Erica

    Hmm…now that we have a basement that is quite dry maybe i can forage into this wondrous world myself….Or just demand that you send me large quantities of your batch.

    Reply
    1. Jenna

      Hmmmm . . . I can’t see your picture. Maybe you need to look into the gravatar thing. And on a side note for any readers–
      MY SISTER HAS A BLOG! =)=)=)

      Reply
  4. SoupAddict Karen

    I had to laugh about the salmonella danger. People get so freaked out over eggs. Please. I’ve consumed (and still do) enough raw, egg-filled dough and batter without ill effect to be a statistic unto myself. Can’t wait to read the story: I’ve never, ever dried meat before.

    Reply
  5. Barbara @moderncomfortfood

    What an incredible project you’ve set for yourself here! I lived in South Africa for many years until recently, and biltong (a completely addictive treat BTW) was as essential as petrol to our car trips around the country. I never had the courage to try making biltong myself but admire you for getting ready to give it a whirl.

    Reply
  6. giselle

    Yum! That sounds great! I love that the second ingredient is MSG! lol i don’t care what they say, MSG = tasty!

    Reply
  7. Carol Ann Hoel

    Jenna, you crack me up! Ha! I want to see photos of those little pieces of flesh hanging out to dry in your home. Knowing how great you are with a camera, I’m sure you will show us this part of the process. I will probably not engage in the actual adventure, but I’ll enjoy it thoroughly by watching your blog. Blessings to you, adventurous Jenna…

    Reply
  8. Veronica

    I’ve always wanted to make jerky but I figure if I haven’t done it by now in the oven, it isn’t worth buy a food dehydrator for b/c I’ll likely never use it! I am, however, quite interested to see how yours comes out. :)

    Reply
  9. Joanne

    Someone should make extreme cooking an Olympic sport. For taking on this monstrous endeavor, I’m sure you’d take the gold. I’m rooting for you.

    Reply
  10. Kimby

    Jenna, this was a hoot! May 2012 be the year for biltong! Unfortunately, I’m allergic to MSG — let me know if you come up with your own version!

    Reply

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