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All my life I thought I liked beef jerky.  Recently, a partner at my wife’s firm, to whom, to protect her identity, I shall refer as “Cathy Altman,” informed me that I actually like biltong. Beef jerky, she said, is just chewy, under seasoned, nasty stuff.

No, not this kind of Impala…

In contrast, biltong (the by-product of hanging an impala in your garage for a month or so to cure and dry), is thin, crispy, and tasty.  Apparently, I’m part Zimbabwean, and didn’t even know it.

In reality, when I lived in Manhattan, Kansas, the jerky they sold out of K-State was just like how Cathy describes biltong. It’s been my measuring stick against which all other jerky is judged. Frankly, without being overly “confident,” mine is pretty damn close.

And according to Cathy, it reminds her of dried impala.  So I’m declaring it good.

Biltong (Beef Jerky)

What You Need
3 pounds of eye of round, sliced into 3/8-1/2 inch slices
3/4 small can of tomato paste (about 2 tablespoons)
juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp ground coffee (the espresso variety)
2 tbsp molasses
2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp salt

2 cup boiling water
2-3 tbsp liquid smoke (if you’re using a dehydrator instead of a smoker)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper

What To Do with It

Cut the meat into strips 1/4-1/2 inch thick, depending on what you’re going to use for dehydration. Thinner for a dehydrator, thicker for a smoker.

Mix all the other ingredients in a gallon plastic bag, then add the meat, place in a refrigerator and let it sit 24 hours.
Lay your meat out on your drying rack. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp kosher salt per pound on top, and coat fairly liberally with black pepper (I give about 1 turn for each 4 square inches of meat).

Dry it until it’s just a bit crispy.  12-14 hours on a dehydrator, 8-10 on a smoker (at about 150 degrees).

A word of warning. Biltong has a strange effect on people. For instance, it turns my father into Gollum:
Mom: “Jim, where’d you get the jerky?”
Dad (who had gone to my house to drop something off while I was at work): “Thomas gave it to me.”