Wild Game Charcuterie with Alan Bergo
About the Recipe
If you like making charcuterie at home, or even just like a good bag of jerky, you’ll love biltong. Just think beef jerky, but softer, more tender. I learned about the South African charcuterie through a friend who’d lived there, and, after a bad biltong craving, built a curing chamber specifically for it at home.
If you’re not familiar, biltong is made by cutting meat into slabs about an inch thick, seasoning, with black pepper and coriander, and allowing to dry for 1-2 weeks or so. Typically the meat used is beef, specifically the cut called the “silverside” in the U.K. or what we’d call the top round. In my case, I cut up an elk, using the same muscle, and it worked like a charm. Other venison, like whitetail deer, will give the same result.
About the Chef
This recipe is by Chef Alan Bergo, a culinary industry veteran, former executive chef of Minnesota's acclaimed Lucia’s Restaurant, and the Salt Cellar. Author of The Forager Chef’s Book of Flora, he’s one of the most respected voices in the world of foraging and wild food. He’s best known as the founder of Forager Chef, his website focused on wild ingredients that reaches millions of readers each year. Learn more about Chef Alan and his hunt for mushrooms, wild and obscure foods at foragerchef.com.
Elk Bitlong: South African Jerky
Dry cured elk Biltong, inspired by the traditional South African charcuterie. Think of it like slabs of jerky that are cut to order.
Toast the black pepper and coriander, then grind coarsely in a spice grinder. In a separate bowl, mix together the salt and instacure.
Trim the meat of all sinew and connective tissue, then cut into 1 inch thick slices. Mix the meat with the seasonings, then vacuum seal for 2 days.
Remove the meat from the bag and lay the slices on a cutting board. Soak a towel in apple cider vinegar and blot each slice of meat on both sides, then transfer to an UMAi Dry bag (I like to use the ribeye-striploin bags for this) seal using the vac mouse strip (refer to their instructions here if you’re unfamiliar) and refrigerate for 14 days, or until the meat no longer feels “springy” to the touch.
If you really want to go the extra mile, vacuum seal the meat again, in a regular vacuum bag, and refrigerate for 24 hours to refresh the texture.
From here, you can pull out pieces of biltong as you like. To serve, slice the biltong into thin slices using a sharp knife and eat as you would jerky. I like to keep the chunks of meat whole until I’m ready to slice and serve them.