Beef Jerky is the perfect trail food, salty, spicy, flavorful, and lightweight. Even for those who are just trekking around town, it is a delicious and surprisingly healthful snack, made with lean beef and natural ingredients. When properly dried, it keeps for weeks in an airtight container. You’ll never want to buy it from the store again!
This recipe does not call for curing salts, which contain nitrites; however, some recipes do call for the addition of pink salts, or InstaCure #1
. The addition of these salts will create a more reddish color in the finished product, but are otherwise unnecessary, as long as the meat is well dried before storing.
While this simple recipe is meant to be made with just a basic electric dehydrator
, the flavor is enhanced if the meat is smoked at the beginning of the drying process. This can be done with an electric smoker, or over a barbecue with very low heat, using soaked wood chips or sawdust to smother the coals and create flavorful smoke. Those who wish to try this method can dry the jerky in the smoker, or transfer the partially dried jerky to a dehydrator after smoking, to finish drying. Liquid smoke can also be added to the marinade, if desired, at a rate of 1-2 teaspoons per pound of meat.
This recipe can be scaled up as much as desired; 1 pound of meat makes approximately 4 ounces of dried jerky. It is best if left to marinate overnight, or even for 2 days, before drying.
1) Prepare your meat.
Choose a cut of meat that is lean, not marbled throughout with fat. Flank steak works well, but other cuts can work, too.
Pat the meat dry, and trim any excess fat away. (This step is especially important if you are making large batches, or intend to store the jerky for a long time; the fat goes rancid sooner)
Place the meat in the freezer, and freeze for 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the thickness of the cut. You want the meat to be partially frozen, which makes slicing easier.
2) Prepare your marinade
Remove the meat from the freezer, and prepare the marinade. Combine all ingredients except the meat in a large bowl and whisk until throughly blended.
3) Slice your jerky
Slice the meat into thin strips, about 1/8 to 1/4 inches thick. With a long, thin cut like the flank steak pictured here, it is helpful to cut with the grain into thin sheets of meat, and then to slice these against the grain into smaller pieces of jerky.
With other, more symmetrical cuts of meat, it may work to slice against the grain from the beginning. Don’t worry too much about the orientation of the grain, however; the more important thing is that the slices are of uniform thickness.
4) Tenderize your meat
Tenderize and even out the thickness of the slices by pounding them with a meat tenderizer or other sturdy implement.
5) Marinate the meat
Place the strips of meat into the bowl of marinade and toss to ensure that all the pieces are coated.
Allow the meat to marinate for 12-24 hours in the refrigerator, stirring once or twice to ensure even distribution of the marinade.
6) Dehydrate your jerky
Place the strips of marinated meat on the trays of an electric dehydrator, and set the temperature to 145°F-155°F.
Dehydrate the meat for 3-5 hours, turning over once. Dehydrate until the jerky is fully dry; it should be tender and tear easily into strips, revealing the inside to be dried inside as well as out. Drying for too long will make the jerky hard and tougher than it should be.
7) Cool and store
Remove finished pieces as they are dry, to prevent over-drying. Allow the jerky to cool completely before storing it in an air-tight container.
Over to You
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