While most of the world is speeding toward the future trying to find new ways to do things, bigger, better, and faster some us of are looking to the past to develop the staple of days gone by – Jerky. I can’t help but think that the ole Cowboys of the wild west, or the Native American Indians who taught them the process must be thinking “the people in the future are strange, they take a nice juicy piece of meat and dry it when they can eat it fresh!”
What is Jerky? Jerky is simply strips of lean meat, cured, smoked and flavored into a chewy, mouth watering, strip of dried meat. It can be made from beef, turkey, venison, moose, elk, antelope, bear, rabbit or just about any other meat.
NOTE: I have never made jerky from pork and don’t recommend it. I’m more than leery about potential problems with raw pork so I will not use it for jerky or any other meat products that are not cooked.
When making jerky use only lean meats because the fat in meat goes bad quickly and will cause your jerky to spoil a lot faster than meat with no fat. When using beef, I recommend using the leaner cuts. Wild game meats are usually lean but still trim off all of the fat and membrane that you can as you cut up the meat. Some meats are tougher than others but hey this is jerky!
Sliced Beef Jerky
you could use:
Top Round (probably the best cut)
Eye of the round
Brisket (well trimmed)
Once you have your meat chill it until stiff (not frozen) in the freezer. This will make it easier to trim or slice. Once the meat is trimmed slice the meat across the grain into 1/4"inch thick. If you cut it with the grain you will have a lot of very tasty dental floss!
Mix ingredients for marinate in a bowl and let stand while you are cutting the meat. Then place meat into the bowl of marinade, secure lid and let stand about 30 minutes. Shake bowl and turn bowl every few minutes to cover all pieces equally. Drain in sieve or colander. Place on trays and dehydrate.
This is a basic marinate. I like to use a combination of soy sauce and brown sugar sweetened to taste. Add crushed red pepper, chili pepper, cayenne pepper, or jalapeno pepper if you like it hot. You can add garlic powder, onion powder, Cajun spice or any spices you like - to taste. Mix the ingredients together and taste it. This is what your jerky will taste like once dried so taste your marinate before you use it.
5 lbs. thinly Sliced meat
2 tablespoons Morton's Tender Quick
1/2 lb brown sugar
3 cups soy sauce
Spices of your choosing
½1 cup liquid smoke (if you don’t have a smoker)
Marinate the meat for 20 to 30 minutes. Thicker cuts of meat will need to marinate a lot longer. It is important that the meat is marinated completely. The meat will turn brown when it has absorbed the marinate. The meat can sit in the marinate overnight if you wish.
My oven has very low settings so I do jerky in the oven by lining my racks with aluminum foil and laying the meat on the foil. Cook at 150 ºF for the first 30 minutes turn the strips over then continue cooking at 170ºF for another 2 hours and 30 minutes. Turn the strips at least twice and pat with a dry paper towels to remove any moisture you see. Melted fats will look like shiny spots wipe it off!
Place one layer of meat on each rack or tray. If you like slightly thicker slices, then increase the drying time accordingly. Store in clean jars with tight lid, plastic Ziploc bags or vacuum seal if you plan to keep it for more than a week.
Ground Meat Jerky Using a Jerky Gun
Jerky can also be made from lean ground meat. Hamburger that is 97% lean can be used to make jerky. You can roll it out on a Teflon cutting sheet and cut it into strips or buy a Jerky Gun or Jerky Shooter which is used to squeeze out thin strips of meat for Jerky.
Jerky Shooter Jerky Gun
I was a bit skeptical about ground meat jerky at first but I got a Jerky shooter and gave it a try. It’s not bad! You can whip out a lot of Jerky in short order and at the price of hamburger vs steak! The Jerky you buy in the store is more than likely made this way so this isn’t anything new. You can use any of the same recipes but do not use more than 1/3 cup of liquid jerky mix for every 1.5 to 2 pounds of ground meat.
5 lbs. lean ground meat
2 tablespoons Morton's Tender Quick salt
1/3 tbsp. coarse ground black pepper
1/3 tbsp. garlic salt or powder
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Other spices to taste
For more recipes check the Smoking Download section!
Formed Ground Beef Jerky in the Smoker
You can use any of the spices you use for sliced meat
jerky but add 1/2 oz of water per pound of meat and;
A technique I've learned that makes it so much easier is to form the meat in square disposable foil pans about 9 x 9 size. I developed this recipe in response to request from the members on Smoke Pit Forum. This formulation will work for Jerky or Bacon.
lbs. lean ground beef
1 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
*1/2 teaspoon Jalapeño pepper for bite (optional)
2 teaspoon brown sugar
1/3 cup powdered milk
1 packet Knox gelatin
Prague Powder #1 (according to manufacturers instructions)
Mix dry ingredients then add
1/2 cup water if making
1/2 cup soy sauce
Mix all ingredients together. Line a tin foil pan with plastic wrap and tear off enough to cover the top as well. Press mixed meat into pan removing all air pockets. Cover meat with plastic wrap and set in fridge over night or up to a few days.
Carefully turn meat over on a smoker screen and place it on the smoker at around 150°F damper wide open, no smoke for 1 hour to dry out the surface of the meat.
Next open damper to half way and raise smoker temperature to about 170°F degrees with smoke until internal temperature of 155°F.
Put meat in the fridge over night and slice thin. Package and freeze unused meat.
NOTE: If making jerky from this dip the thin slices into in your favorite marinate after slicing and re-smoke until dry and Jerky like.
You can make tons of jerky at a time this way and it's very easy to do! This was from a 25 pound batch!
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