If you haven’t yet tried biltong, we urge you to give it a try. It’s something of a taste revelation and we can’t quite work out why it’s taken so long to catch on over here. In its native South Africa, they just can’t get enough of it. The obvious way to enjoy it is as a snack, but biltong is way more versatile than that. Packed, as it is, with flavour and texture, adding biltong to all sorts of recipes can introduce a whole other dimension to familiar dishes. But where to start?
- Add a bit of biltong to a mixed antipasti platter to complement and contrast with other charcuterie. Its salty meatiness also works well alongside mild, creamy cheeses and fruity green olives.
- You might already be used to seasoning stews and roasts with salty anchovy fillets, but biltong does the job just as well. Cut up some biltong strips into chunks and stir them through a slow-cooking beef and ale casserole. The biltong will release its spicy flavours into the gravy and, without being overpowering, add an exotic background hum.
- For a canapé with a difference, stuff dried dates or figs with some chopped biltong and a dollop of goats cheese. Secure with a cocktail stick and bake until the cheese is soft and melty.
- Give a warm salad a bit of bite by combining shredded biltong with chunks of roast pumpkin, slivered red onion and chopped mint on a bed of rocket. Drizzle with a honey-chilli dressing.
- The flavour and texture of home-made burgers and meatballs can be pepped up with a handful of biltong minced in with beef or pork.
- A chunky stuffing for pork or chicken can be seasoned and intensified by the addition of finely chopped biltong to sausage meat, breadcrumbs and herbs. Adding the zest of an orange or lemon offsets the meaty intensity of the biltong.
- Switch things up by replacing chorizo with biltong in a Cajun jambalaya. The hot paprika flavours of Cajun spices are complemented by the earthiness of the biltong. The contrasting textures of delicate chicken, al dente rice and robust biltong make an interesting mouthful.
- Combine chunks of biltong with strips of beef in a slow-simmered spicy Asian soup. Rich beef broth is enlivened by chilli, ginger and garlic – add pak choi and super snaps at the end of cooking for a refreshing crunch. Go without noodles for a light lunch or with noodles for a hearty supper.
- If you’re enjoying biltong with drinks, have a think about how best to balance the intense savoury saltiness of the meat. Successful combinations include ice-cold lager, floral white Riesling or well-rounded red Tempranillo. Fino or Amontillado sherries may seem surprising partners for biltong, but their nutty dryness balances off well with the intensity of the meat. Cocktails with a bitter edge are also enhanced by biltong’s meaty-saltiness – try a gin and tonic or a whisky and ginger, go super-sour with a mojito or embrace orangey bitterness with a classic Italian negroni.