Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Take that, Jamie Oliver!

When you tell people that you're making biltong, the responses are a fairly even mix of, "Oh, CHRIST, you wouldn't!" and "Mmmm - wouldn't mind a bit of that!"

Most of the "eeeeuuwwww!!!" noises have come from my mum and my sister. They're terrified we're going to poison someone. The Saffies have been drying meat for about 300 years now and they haven't died. Why d'you think the Boer soldiers were so damned good? Biltong, obviously. And maybe rusks. But no-one over the age of one likes rusks these days, so it must have been the biltong.

(Oh, speaking of the Boer War, one little hint for travellers - please, please don't go to South Africa and say the words "Breaker Morant". Just trust me on this one.)

So, Jack Thompson aside, we cut our first piece of biltong tonight. It was made using Oom Jaco's Secret Recipe, except the meat was kangaroo instead of beef or kudu.We call it "rootong". Heh.

There was, of course, one other small consideration. Bloke had to build what was essentially a 1930s' meatsafe (minus the legs and the leadlight doors and shit). In South Africa, when they make biltong, they just hang it in the shed or under the stoop and that's all fine. There aren't that many flies there because they have dung beetles. Australia doesn't have dung beetles. But then, we also don't have elephants, so you'd think that'd would balance itself the hell out, wouldn't you? Nooo, it doesn't.

It's not for nothing that waving your hand in front of your face is called "the Aussie salute". We have a bloody arseload of flies here. Blowies, bluebottles, plain old houseflies, little shit with wings that no-one really has a name for. Flies. At the delightful beach Bloke and I call home, if you're still sitting outside at dawn, the flies descend by the bucketload.

There seems to be a golden hour or three between about 3am and dawn when there are no mosquitoes and no flies. It's the three hours of power, ja? But once it gets to be bloody light, yer screwed, maaaayte.

So the biltong box came into being. For three weekends, the lawnmowing was ignored. In fact, the lawn is pretty much out of control. There are buffalo runners trying to smother the agapanthus and having a go at the paving. There was hammering and glueing and nailing in of cat-proof mesh. But finally it was ready to roll. We hit the Adelaide Central Market kangaroo butcher on Saturday morning and I mixed up a big whack of Oom Jacko's spice mix.

"I dunno, doesn't taste quite right. Whaddyathink?" I asked Bloke.

"Hmmdunnotastesallrightame," he said.

"Fooyyynne, then," I said.

So away I went, packing layers of meat and spice and marinade. And all was well.

The next day, I hung it on little hooks (made from recycled wire coathangers) in the biltong box and the biltong box was hung from a sturdy length of string suspended from the rafters of the back verandah.

Naturally, Mr Furpants and every fly in the area took a great interest in the box, but thankfully, such was Bloke's overengineering that none of them got in and the biltong remained free of maggots and kitty lick. And so, here we are, three days after hanging, sampling our first rootong.

And it's good! Even Mr F, who is notoriously fussy about what he eats, was begging for bits. Now we just have to wait for 24 hours to see if we die before we can let anyone else try it.

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26 Comments:

At 1:51 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger Steph said...

Oh dear God. That looks....scary!
I hope you survive the night dear Redcap, you'd be sorely missed!!

 
At 1:57 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Heh. Yes, we've lived to tell the tale, so I guess it's not poisonous :) I admit it doesn't look very appetising, but it does taste better than it looks - a bit like salami.

 
At 3:36 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger The Man at the Pub said...

Sound very flavoursome. Is it a bit like that tender variety of jerky?

Anyways, I want to hear the Breaker Morant story. Could it be Sooth Efricans still feel very strongly about it? Ploise Exploin?

 
At 4:50 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger Jo said...

WANT SOME.
My friends are utterly disgusted by my predilection for dried meat products.

I'm berzerky for jerky.


Sorry.

 
At 4:51 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger ashleigh said...

Ah, such an evocative description of Adelaide.

Buffalo grass, agapanthus, and flies.

And rootong sounds like a damn fine idea. Perhaps not now that the weather has SUDDENLY gone all cold on us though.

Next batch, next summer, ja?

 
At 6:10 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger Lonie Polony said...

Sorry to be terribly ignorant, but is any heat applied to the meat before eating? It looks very immunity-strengthening...

 
At 6:48 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Man at the pub, I'm told it is - I've never tried jerky. It's not that dramatic - you'll just end up in a barney. We say scapegoat, they say war criminal.

Jo, well, I can post some, but I'm not sure what sort of condition it would arrive in...

Ashleigh, I think it'll be OK for another couple of months - you just put a fan on it to keep the air circulating and leave it in the laundry instead of under the verandah. I don't think I'd try making it in July, though. It's a bit like home brew :)

Lonie, no, it's cured rather than cooked. There's vinegar in the marinade and salt in the spice mix and between them they get the job done. I guess if you don't fancy mettwurst, this won't be up your alley either.

 
At 7:11 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger Scorpy said...

Ummmm...How do I say this? Ok I'll just whisper it...We DO have dung beetles because all the cattle dips and pour-ons we use on our cattle have to be Dung Beetle safe. We still have the flies though...no getting away from them bludgers :)

 
At 7:19 pm, March 29, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Scorpy, really? We have dung beetles? Wow. Slack-arse little bastards just aren't doing their jobs, then ;)

 
At 1:03 am, March 30, 2007, Blogger Nai said...

I am really impressed with your (and Bloke's) effort. Maybe you could make a batch next Chrissie and parcel it up the way my Auntie does with jams and preserves? If you do, can I be on your Christmas list?

 
At 10:55 am, March 30, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Nai, I could wrap bits up in little pinked pieces of gingham! Can you imagine the look on someone's face is they unwrapped it without knowing what it was? >:) How would I go posting meat products to Vietnam though?

 
At 11:18 am, March 30, 2007, Blogger killerrabbit said...

I love trying new and exciting foodstuff's I would be delighted to receive a gingham parcel of slightly cured meat. Maybe you could start a mail order business with your Rootong. However you will have to come up with a new name as that one sounds very close to something most people would snigger at. It is root mixed with on.

 
At 3:06 pm, March 30, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Oh dear. Oops. I didn't think of that. Bloke thinks we should call it bilbytong, but there aren't any bilbies in it...

 
At 6:11 pm, March 30, 2007, Blogger gigglewick said...

Unrelated: oh dear god Redcap,

May I present to you my latest stupid kids name discovery....

BUICK DYLAN.

Do you think they pronounce it (correctly) Bew-ick or Bwick?

 
At 10:28 pm, March 30, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Gigglewick, oooohhh, that's a nasssty one! Buggered if I know how they pronounce it - could even be Boyck for all we know! The horror, the horror!

 
At 5:16 pm, April 02, 2007, Blogger hazelblackberry said...

Mmmm...biblytong. The surprising Easter treat!

Looks yummy.

 
At 6:14 pm, April 02, 2007, Blogger Nai said...

Boyck - Ha!

 
At 7:55 pm, April 02, 2007, Blogger PetStarr said...

Oh god I love jerky.... you better be making some more of that shizzle-tong for us beeyatches to nibble-on...

 
At 9:19 pm, April 02, 2007, Blogger MadameBoffin said...

mmmm biltong. I was suspicious of it until a South African friend made me try it. It was delicious. I'm lucky - my local candy store imports South African goods as a side-project so they have plenty of biltong.

 
At 10:29 am, April 03, 2007, Blogger killerrabbit said...

I see that the drought has struck again Redcap. Do you want me to give you a meme to get started again? You can do the 5 weird things one if you want.

 
At 11:06 am, April 03, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

hazel, perhaps I could wrap it in bright foil and hand it out instead of chocolate?

nai, nothing is beyond the realm of possibility :(

Pet, I've got a crapload of the stuff, so fear not. I'll save ya some. It goes down a treat with beer.

Boff, ha! Another convert! Can you get game biltong, or only beef? If you can get something like kudu, try it.

Killer ~hangs head~ I know. I've started a couple of things, but they've just sat in my drafts, unamusing and unfinished. I would go the meme, but I'm not sure there are five things about me that are that particularly unusual, or at least that I haven't already told everyone about. But I'll get there eventually. Bloke's shed looks like prime blog fodder at the moment...

 
At 12:20 pm, April 03, 2007, Blogger kiki said...

i want some

even though it looks like something you might find on rate my poo!

 
At 6:53 pm, April 03, 2007, Blogger audrey said...

Can you save me some to try? Sounds....meaty.

 
At 4:26 pm, April 18, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

Kiki, I'm sure you'd like it. But when I visited Rate My Poo, at your suggestion, the object being rated looked like schnitzel that someone just dropped in the bog. Biltong doesn't look anything like schnitzel :D

Audrey, most certainly. There's still plenty in the fridge!

 
At 3:15 am, September 19, 2007, Blogger Kely said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 6:57 pm, September 19, 2007, Blogger redcap said...

There will be no advertising on this blog. Spammers, fuck off.

 

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