This is my recipe for air dried beef , in Africa also called Biltong
or Bresaola. I believe it’s the simplest and oldest way to cook meat.
I love it because it lasts more stored properly and tastes awesome. Also, due to low fat (even if it is, it will dry) and method of cooking it’s healthier and contains full amount of vitamins than boiled or grilled beef.
It’s also awesome as a snack, for those beef jerky fans. The main difference, beef jerky is smoke dried beef.
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Step 1: Choose Your Meat
Warning! Not every meat works dried. For instance, chicken
or pork can have toxins which are cleaned by boiling. Unless you grow your own chickens or pigs. (congrats if you do). Still, I would not recommend it.
I choose round or muscle meat, or whatever is called, with lowest fat possible. Also, I always buy meat from butchers rather than super-market as I have many meat types to choose from.
Step 2: Fillet the Meat
Well, I bought a full piece of meat and had to cut it into
small stripes. The smaller, the less time it takes the meat to dry.
I used my trusty wood chopping board and knife and cut the meat in 10-15cm long stripes at about 0.5cm thickness.
Then I washed the stripes with warm water and place them in a sandwich box.
Step 3: Add the Spices, Salt and Vinegar and Get Messy
Here you can improvise as much as you can, but there are a
few ingredients who must not miss from the recipe:
-Vinegar - mandatory because it cleans the meat and acts as preservative. In terms of its shelf life, vinegar's acidic nature allows it to last indefinitely without the use of refrigeration
- Salt – also a must, acts as natural preservative and also for taste
- Marjoram – optional but I always use it
- Ground pepper – optional
- Hot Pepper – optional, I always use it when I’m cooking just for me
- Thyme - optional but I always use it
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl or you can put all the ingredients on the meat.
Poor the marinated sauce on the meat and, with your hands,
start mixing everything really good.
After I finished, I sealed the box and and give it a good shake.
Leave the box in the fridge for a couple of hours, I left it for 12 hours.
Step 4: Drying Environment
Here I improvised a lot. I used an IKEA storage box, the interior I covered with aluminum foil for
better reflection of light and also for box protection (I found that the plastic will melt if it’s not covered which will mess your meat), a 75w incandescent light bulb, 3 aluminum bars for hanging and a 12v fan.
I will not go into details because it’s not the perfect box but it does the job.
Step 5: Drying Preparation and Phase
I took the sandwich box from the fridge and used some paperclips to create some hooks (I will get better ones since the paperclips are not reusable). Hooked the meat and hang it in the box.
On the bottom of the box you want to have a plate to collect all the juice coming from the meat. I closed the box and plug it in. I haven’t used the fan because I didn’t had problems with fungus.
Warning: It smells heavy and if you don’t like it, you might want to place your box away. I put it on my balcony, because it’s a closed room and it’s away from my dog, me and bugs outside.
After 10-12 hours, check the box and meat. I removed the slices cured and place them in the fridge. Now the meat curing is left at everybody’s choice.
Some may want juicy, some may want crusty. I choose crusty, so the meat slices not crusty are left for more curing.
Step 6: Serving
As I saying, it's perfect as a snack but may also be served as a main dish with mashed potatoes and some old red wine.