Cutting your Beef in Steaks | Making Biltong – Part 5

Cutting the beef into steaks prior to marinating

Video Transcript

All right, we’re back again. We just adjusted the camera, just to make it a bit easier to see what we’re doing. So right, what we’re going to do now is cut. So what I’m going to do is, just straight through there, cut down the length of the meat that way. Simple as that really. Now that is probably about 20 mil, at that side, down to nothing there. So that’s fine. That’ll dry nicely. That thickness there, which is if you gauge it by the knife, is probably a medium cut for biltong, and that will give you a nice sort of dryness. So there we go. And then, basically, just come down that way. Just follow your meat grain down.

Cameraman:    So when you say “dry medium,” because it’s like when you cook a steak, you want it well done, medium, or rare. Is that correct?

Yeah. Perfect. That’s a very good analogy. Dry is, literally, there’s no moisture left in the meat, and medium is you get a nice balance between what is, essentially, your outer crust and a moist product on the inside of the meat. And very wet is obviously the equivalent of probably what is like a rare or a blue steak.

Cameraman:    A blue steak, yeah.

Some people like it that way. It’s entirely up to you. If you have gone to this length to make biltong, you probably already know what your taste in biltong is. So we’re just taking you as a guide. Again, what I’m going to do is just cut this one, probably a bit thicker, just to give you an idea of the different grades. So that’s probably medium. Obviously, that there’s narrowing down, but that’s very thin at that end. So that’s fine. That’s medium. Again, you got medium there. It’s a thicker cut there, and that’s a good probably medium slice. Actually, that’s pretty consistent. So that’s a medium slice.

Cameraman:    So medium is about 20 mil, is it?

Yeah. It’s about 2 centimetres.

Cameraman:    Yeah.

And then you’ve got a nice, sort of thick-ish, if you like up that way. That’s thick.

Cameraman:    That’s maybe 30, 25, 30.

Yeah. Don’t get too worried about the size and the thickness. It will naturally dry the way it is, and it will give you a good product. It’s as simple as that really. It’s not rocket science this stuff. So that’s it. You’ve got your various cut sizes. That’s on the salmon. That’s why I like the salmon, because you can get nice cut steaks from that, perfect.

Cameraman:    It’s all one muscle there, isn’t it?

Yeah, it’s all one muscle. And then, basically, we just start going through cutting the other one.

Cameraman:    You’re cutting nice big steaks here. What if your, say, drying cabinet or your biltong box was a small box?

Well, if it’s as simple as that, if you’ve got a smaller cabinet, you cut your steaks, depending on the size or the length of your cabinet. If that’s going to fit in your cabinet, fine. If it’s not, cut it to suit.

Cameraman:    Cut it in half then.

Yeah, simple as that. So, really, that’s it.

Cameraman:    So you could cut it at this stage here, right in half now.

Yeah. Cut the steaks long ways. What I’m saying is, cut lengthways, because it works for the prime cut. You want to cut steaks like this because it’s easier for when you’re cutting your meat. Right. Okay. Right. So you’re just cutting through. You’ve got your steaks as they come off. Simple as that really.

Cameraman:    The steak looks like it’s got a nice marble effect in there.

Yeah, this is quite good. I mean, this is good silversides.

Cameraman:    So it’s important to have good quality meat then.

Well, you’re going to be the one eating it, so it depends on your price range.

Cameraman:    Fits your budget then.

Yeah. Generally, silversides, you want something that’s under 30 months old. That’s generally your good meat. Anything over 30 months old is defined as cow meat, which is a lot older and, obviously, a bit more tough. So try and get something under 30 months.

Cameraman:    To buy the whole silversides, would I go to my butcher, or somewhere like Booker, or . . .

You could go to a butcher. You could go to a cash and carry. You could probably buy a whole silverside, individual silverside, from a supermarket.

Cameraman:    Shop around.

Yea, shop around, really. But what I will say, like I said is you will get a better price for a whole silver. So, we’re going through it, here. There’s your steaks. The other thing to bear in mind, as well, is we recommended cutting a whole case, which is great. What you’re doing now is if you do all of this prep work all at once, it’s good, because everything’s messed up, you’re doing all of the work now. You’ve got all of these steaks.

Cameraman:    So you’re cleaning to a minimum.

You’re doing all the work at once. Everything’s messy all at once, and it’s just more efficient to do it that way.

Cameraman:    So if I’ve cut too much meat?

No, you won’t cut too much meat. You’ll obviously have too much meat, because you’ve got a whole case of silversides. Right. That’s an off-cut. That doesn’t matter. That’s the last piece off. You’ll always get that, because meat is meat, and you always get odd shapes. That’s fine. By the time you dry it out, it’ll look like a normal piece of biltong. Don’t worry about it too much. Right. You’ve got all this steak. That is off one silverside. Okay, now that’s a lot of meat. Now, there were three silversides in that case. I know what you’re saying, “That’s a lot of meat.” But all we’re saying is you’ve done all the work now, you’ve done all the prep work, and you’ve cut three silversides.

What you do now is portion control it. Maybe put three or four pieces like that. If they’re too long, cut them in half, put them in a carrier bag, freeze them down. Freeze them all up individually like that. Portion control. Put them in your freezer.  That will last you, in the freezer, anyway a good 6 to 12 months in the freezer. That’s fine.

Now, what you do, you made a batch of biltong. You’ve eaten it. You’re happy, fine. You go in the freezer, you pull out your next batch of biltong, thaw it out, prep it up, make it, you’re good to go. This is by far the most efficient way of making good biltong at a sensible price. Buy bulk, prep it up like this, freeze it down, pull it out as you need it.

So we’ve cut the meat. We’ve shown you how to do that. What we’re going to do now is go on to the next stage, which is basically getting into the processing side.

Cameraman:    Spicing and marinating.

Spicing and marinating it, and, yeah, we’ll go from there. So thanks for watching, and we’ll see you in the next video.

Got on to Video 6 – Spicing your Biltong


Spicing your Beef | Making Biltong – Part 6

Spicing and marinating the beef 

Video Transcript

Hi, guys. Hopefully, by now, you’re following us and you’re up to the same stage. What we’re going to do now, we’ve cut the meat, prepped it. It’s all in steaks, ready to go, and now we’re going to marinate it basically. Probably the most important stage of biltong making because this is where you start the curing process really.

What you want to do, you’ve got your steaks. We need some nice malt vinegar, which is what we’ve got here. Cheapest chips, you know, for what’s this, five litres, it’s a couple of pounds, nothing.

Cameraman:    You can use any type of vinegar, can’t you? Different type of cider vinegar?

Yeah. Any vinegar or what is also nice is you can add a mix of Worcestershire sauce, because that’s got a very strong vinegar base to it, and also Worcestershire sauce is good with beef. So, again, we talked about it in the spice stage about variations. That’s just another variation in your vinegar. Cider vinegar, anything like that. The vinegar itself is the key one.

We’ve got the vinegar. I’ve just poured it in there. It’s a bit easier to work with. Steaks, we just need, basically, a tray to lay everything out. Now, obviously, this is a big tray, big steaks, big bowl of vinegar. Now, if you’re doing this at home or on a domestic scale, just scale it down. Instead of this, use a roasting tin for whatever size suits you. Like we said, if the steaks are too big, cut your steaks to suit your roasting tin. It’s as simple as that really.

If you want to scale it up, go big. Go large. It doesn’t really matter. We’re just showing you here what to do. Basically, roasting tin. Stay there. And of course, the spice that we made up earlier, which is all there, ready to go. So, basically, what we like to do, there’s a lot of basics in this video, but, you know, that’s the way we like to do it. So you want to put your vinegar in first. Just splash that around just so you get a nice sort of spread what’s going on. It is a little bit messy, but, you know, that’s the way it goes.

What you want to try and do is have one wet hand and one dry hand. Use your dry hand for your spice. So that’s the spice we made up earlier. There’s a good mix there. You can see you’ve got the salt, you’ve got the cracked black pepper, coriander seeds. That is a nice mix. So then, basically, in there like that, you just sprinkle it around.

Cameraman:    So you’re spicing the bottom of the tray first?

Yeah. I mean, basically, because obviously you’re going to put the meat in the bottom. So, if I put the meat on the bottom and there’s no spice and no vinegar, it’ll have nothing on it. So you’re just layering it. It’s like a lasagne. You’re just layering it basically. So vinegar and spice.

Cameraman:    Is it true that some people actually soak the meat in the vinegar?

Well, yeah, I suppose they can. I mean, this is how we do it. I mean, this is probably the best way. We’ve had the best results with this. You can absolutely douse the whole product in vinegar, but you’ll just be using more vinegar.

Cameraman:    It does leave a bit more of a vinegar taste to it, though, if it’s soaked, doesn’t it?

Yeah. But it’s all about keeping your costs at the right balance, really.

Cameraman:    Keeping it real.

Keeping it real. So you’ve got your meat, you’ve got your spice. And like we said, you might do this for three or four steaks, individually, in a small tin. Or you might do this for 40 steaks. It just entirely depends on what you’re doing.

Cameraman:    It looks like you’re making a jigsaw puzzle there.

Well, yeah. Jigsaw puzzle or lasagne.

Cameraman:    You’re making it fit to the shape of the tin.

Yeah, so you pick out pieces that are going to help you layer the bottom nicely. You know, there’s a smaller piece. Just sort of tuck it in there. You know, it’s not rocket science. It’s [food] production. It’ll all work itself out. So, again, we’ve layered that. We’ve got a nice place there. Again, vinegar on top.

Cameraman:    I see. You’re going to layer the next load of meat on top of this?

Yes. We just do another layer. So you go meat, vinegar, spice, meat, vinegar, spice, meat, vinegar, spice. And you just do that and fill your tray up. And you’ll find that, by the end of it, you’ll have a good amount of vinegar through the whole mix, anyway.

Cameraman:    So you’re going to be a little bit more generous with the spice on this side, because you’re going to have two layers, aren’t you?

Yep. So, again, spice, just so you get a nice covering. And that’s a nice, good consistency there. Again, layer number two. You know, it doesn’t really matter. This time, we might go this way. It doesn’t matter. So just lay it all in.

Cameraman:    You’re making it a work of art.

Yeah. Simple as that really. Got some nice, big pieces there, which are good for biltong.

Cameraman:    That’s the piece of the salmon you were talking about earlier.


Cameraman:    So you can see the one little, a beautiful piece of meat there.

Yeah. That is a nice, big steak. And then, you know, obviously we’ve got another little small bit here. We’ll just tuck that in there.

Cameraman:    Tidy.

Yeah. So that’s layer two. Again, here we go again. More vinegar. You know and again, like we said with this vinegar, put some flavours in there if you want. A bit of Worcester. You know, it doesn’t really matter.

Cameraman:    You could do, if you wanted to, something like liquid garlic or something.

Yeah. Exactly. Put some flavours in there. So more vinegar. Again, a lot of spice. Just liberally spread that over. You know and this is looking very good just as a marinated product. You know that’s going to be good because of the preps there, it’s looks good, right? Okay, here we go again. Another piece. Right. Now, that is literally, we’ve done that and that’s one silverside.

Of course, you’ve got these pieces here. Little bit left over. That’s your top piece. So just do it a bit locally. A bit of vinegar on these pieces at the top. And again, just a bit of spice over these, because this is the top layer. Just want to finish that off so it blends in. And then, basically, nice. So that’s good to go.

I like to let it marinade. So, you know, I’d probably give this 24 hours in the fridge to marinate till all the flavours work in amongst the meat. The vinegar works in into working its way into the meat, as well. Helps with the curing process. So, yeah, give that 24 hours in your fridge. Cover it over. And then pull it out, and then we’ll go to the next stage, which is all about hanging your meat in your dryer or your local little air box or something like that, which is . . .

Cameraman:    Airing cupboard?

. . . airing cupboard, yeah, which helps in the curing process. So that’s it. Your meat’s prepped, it’s in the fridge. It’s marinating, and the next stage is the drying process. Talk to you then. Bye.

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