The question of what the best meat to use for biltong and beef jerky has been asked for a long time. Now most sellers and purveyors will tell you that the best meat to use is the best cuts of beef. The explanation for this is that it has the best flavour and the greatest meat taste. I know if I eat a steak it makes a huge difference as to whether I am satisfied with the flavour, taste and of course texture. But remember steak and dried meat are two completely different things. When it comes to steak Rib eye, scotch and T bone are my favourite cuts in that order if you were wondering. I like rib eye most because of its marbling, flavoursome taste and last but not least texture.
Now if you think of those three main categories – taste/flavour and texture when it comes to biltong and beef jerky – it becomes arguable as to what the best biltong or beef jerky meat should be. Below should present a good enough argument for you to make up your own mind on what the best beef cut or meat should be used when making jerky or biltong.
In steaks and traditionally cooked meats, as mentioned above, the meat cut used can have a big influence on meal satisfactory levels. However, for biltong besides the three main levels – dry, medium, and moist, the category ‘texture’ is basically a non category. To achieve the levels of dried meat moist, medium and dry is simple if you know what you are doing, regardless of the meat used for making your biltong or beef jerky. This is because ultimately biltong is being dried and beef jerky dehydrated so whatever meat you use, based on the category texture, the meat is always going to be the same. On the other hand though, many dried meat connoisseurs will tell you that the meat texture is one of the most important factors – especially for high marbling meats in biltong. This is because the marbling meat cuts add a softer texture to the biltong and of course enhance the beef flavour – flavour being a category on its own.
Once again there are two sides to the beef flavour category. On one hand the best meat cuts with the highest marbling is said to ultimately result in the best tasting beef jerky and biltong. Which makes sense especially for the thicker pieces/cuts of biltong and beef jerky where there is more chunk to the meat. Having said this ultimately each dried meat snack is being seasoned or marinaded with biltong spices – so flavour is therefore a controllable regardless of the cut of meat. What I’m saying is that if you have a killer biltong recipe or beef jerky recipe that everyone loves in terms of seasoning and marinade – it surely would not matter what cut of meat should be used. I have a family friend who makes biltong at home with his own biltong drying machine – and he only ever uses blade steak on special – saying that the cow uses this muscle most so the most blood will have run through this cut giving it a great taste. Having said all this it is important to remember that this texture category is either an issue or non issue depending on the thickness/chunk of the biltong and beef jerky made – especially since your “best biltong recipe” or “best beef jerky recipe” will only soak into the outer layers of the meat cut you use. A thick meat cut used for biltong or beef jerky will obviously allow for the flavour of the actual cut to become more dominant than the seasoning and spice you use.
We are not taking sides here – even though we only use the best cuts of meat for our dried meat snacks, we are just giving you something to think about next time you are researching into what beef should be used when making biltong or beef jerky. If you find it all too difficult – order your biltong, beef jerky and dry wors from Biltong Boys online now and get it delivered in under 3 days.