I have been asked about my beef jerky. Yes, I make my own as opposed to paying about $7 for a 4oz (if I am lucky) bag. Now, keep in mind, I don’t always NOT buy as I do prefer to make my own as opposed to buying. Why, you may ask?
First, I know what type of meat I am using and I get to use my own seasonings. Secondly, I don’t have to worry about the artificial crap they put on store bought to make the shelf life improve. Lastly, as I mentioned above: the price
Why would I buy versus make? The exception to my above rules are when I am out of town with my family or on a long road trip and I have run out. The need for jerky outweighs my patience to get back home and go through the two day process to make more. That’s right…two days.
So, let’s get to it.
What type of meat? The kind you like. I know that is a crazy answer but think about it, if you want a shank because you like the texture or fat content, then buy it. If you prefer filet or ribeye, then do so.
What do I look for in a cut of meat? Ah, a better question than the one above. I look for a relatively low in fat, squared piece of good grade beef (or venison). I want it to have long fibers but squared off so it is easier to cut.
How do I prepare the meat? I wash the meat and pat it dry so it is less slippery and, to be honest, I don’t want to have to slice the meat through all the blood. A good, clean “workspace” if you will. All tenderizing is done with the seasonings but more about that later.
I slice the meat into strips usually no longer than 6″. The strips are approximately 1/8″ thick. This is based on preference. Chewy, beef stick, types cut at 1/8″ to 1/4″. Thinner crispy, jerky, the kind you find in Oklahoma and surrounding areas, should be no more than 1/8″ thick. Keep in mind, the thicker the cut, the longer the dehydration process. Cut ACROSS the fibers otherwise it WILL be tough to chew.
NOTE: There are two schools of thought on the next step. Some prefer to freeze the strips overnight and season them the next day and some don’t. I have no issues with this and do it when I have the time. Oh, the reason? Because it breaks down the fibers by bringing all the water into one area, freezing it and then being removed once it is thawed and washed again. (aren’t you glad you asked).
So onto the recipe (I know this is what you were originally looking for) and the rest of the process, keeping in mind the recipe is not an exact science but more of a “by taste” method.
Worcestershire Sauce – the amount is based on the amount of meat you are using. This is the BASE.
2TBS Meat Tenderizer – non-seasoned, no MSG
1 TBS Sea Salt
1 TBS Black Pepper
1/2 TBS Cayenne Pepper (for those that like it hot)
1/2 TBS Smoked Paprika
4 dashes (about 1 TBS) Liquid smoke
Steak Seasoning – amount varies – I prefer McCormick’s Montreal Steak Season
2 TBS honey
1 TBS Blackstrap Molasses
1 tsp Garlic Powder
Mix thoroughly with a fork. Put all meat in a gallon zip top bag and pour seasoning over it. Mix well in bag. Store in refrigerator overnight (about 8-12 hours is best). Remove bag and bring to room temperature. Place on dehydrator trays and follow directions for dehydrator. For mine is it 22-24 hours.
Keep in mind, the longer you dehydrate, the crispier it becomes. I usually test mine at around 20 hours as depending on the cut of the meat, it might need to come off at that time.
NOTE: With children: Since the recipe is not exact and can add or remove ingredients as desired. Let them add the ingredients. Also, when mixing the “marinade” in the bag with the meat, the children enjoy the feel of doing this as the texture brings out the primitive, animalistic side of their inner beings (or maybe that is just with mine).