I’ve loved biltong for as long as I can remember (it probably was given to me when I was teething as a baby – the hard sticks are great for emerging teeth). Growing up in Zimbabwe meant it was always plentiful in our house. This fantastic delicacy is basically dried meat (usually beef but can be any kind of meat), spiced with a mix of vinegar, salt, sugar, coriander and other spices.
It was born out of necessity. When the Dutch settlers arrived in the warmth of South Africa, they had to find a way to store meat so it didn’t go off. They soon discovered that hanging it out to dry meant the outside went hard, capturing the rich flavours inside and ensuring it would keep for long periods of time.
Biltong is a big part of life in Southern Africa, even though we do have fridges and freezers there now! It goes perfectly with a cold beer while you’re watching the rugby or cricket, is the perfect packed food for any road trip, and is even tasty for breakfast, on its own or with eggs, (especially if you have a hangover). And yes, it’s also good for cooking with.
Luckily for me it’s readily available in the UK, too, so I don’t have to worry about where my next biltong fix is coming from. Which is why I was delighted when The Chichester Biltong Company approached me about starting up a Cook with Biltong club and inspiring people to cook with biltong, too.
So here’s my first recipe. I thought about the flavours and textures that would work well together (and colours – it’s important that food looks nice, too) and came up with this wonderful pasta dish. Give it a try, it’s truly yummy.
Biltong and butternut pasta
My colourful collection of ingredients.
Butternut, biltong, rocket, tagliatelle, goat’s cheese and thyme
Butternut and thyme, ready to roast
Biltong and rocket is a heavenly combination
Tagliatelle with biltong and butternut
10g fresh thyme sprigs
2tbsp olive oil
100g sliced biltong
250g fresh tagliatelle
50g wild rocket
40g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled
Chop the butternut into small cubes. Toss in a roasting tin with the olive oil and add the sprigs of fresh thyme.
Cook at 160C for 20 minutes until the butternut is soft and slightly browned.
Layer the biltong slices on top of the butternut and cook for another 5 minutes until it is warmed through.
Meanwhile, cook the tagliatelle according to the packet instructions
Drain the pasta and put into bowls. Add the butternet and biltong to the pasta, removing the thyme sprigs.
Top with the rocket and crumbled goat’s cheese and serve.
Mix all the ingredients into the pasta before eating.
Join our club
Every month I’m going to post a new recipe using biltong, so watch this space.
And if you want to order some yourself, I highly recommend the Chichester Biltong Company where you can choose the wetness and fattiness of your biltong too (it’s very personal, you know).
Go to www.biltongcompany.co.uk and enter the code EATINGCOVENT when you order.
I’d love to hear any of your biltong ideas or stories, so do get in touch and watch out for the next amazing biltong recipe coming your way.