I have a few hard to buy for omnivores on my Christmas list and the other day the idea of homemade jerky popped into my head. Making jerky was a hit-or-miss affair at my house, and I never really liked the end result or the ingredients in the recipes. And then one day I happened upon a fine blog and an even finer jerky recipe (among all his other fine recipes.) It was like a fairy tale, the meat princess finds her true love...a jerky recipe with all natural ingredients and actually ingredients I have on hand all the time.
Getting this recipe has allowed me to look at all those meat cuts I ordered with good intentions, but never got around to just yet. You know the ones, when your next order of beef comes in and you still have the odd things here and there. This recipe has also been a god-send to our beef customers too. Who wants to take carefully raised grassfed beef and dump Liquid Smoke on it? Not me and certainly not my customers.
I have tweaked this a little since the first batch, and Kevin has too, so I will post the recipe as it was when I started making it and will put my changes in bold. It's a great recipe that lends itself to monkeying with and the batches may turn out different but all are good, and be forewarned once you start making it, you better hide it or resign yourself to the fact that you will be making jerky often enough to become proficient.
In Kevin's words: "I’ve made a fair whack of jerky, both in the oven and over wood fire, sweet-glazed versions, plain versions, smoked and unsmoked. I’ve recently come across a recipe that’s worth sharing. Not only is it dang tasty, it avoids the onion/garlic powder route which even ‘Charcuterie’ suggests [a rare shortcoming of the book]:
per pound of meat [in this case, very tough 09 moose]:1 tbsp kosher salt (Redmond Realsalt or Celtic Sea Salt)
1 tbsp soy sauce (Tamari wheat-free soy sauce)
2 tsp dark brown sugar (Rapidura)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I microplaned my garlic for more flavor)
1 tsp dried chili [optional] (Chili powder)
1 tsp cracked black pepper [optional] (not optional)
Slice meat thin and most importantly – evenly – while still partially frozen. Mix with marinade ingredients above, and refrigerate for a day or three. Dry via your method of choice. Note that jerky pieces never finish all at the same time, so you have to pull them off as they get to a texture you like."
I have had good luck drying my jerky in our wood cookstove oven, with the oven door open and a medium fire, it's a day long process to dry it and it does need going through to check for finished pieces. Smoking and any method you have at hand would work just as well.
I have found that Kevin's instructions for a day or three of marinating is best if you can hold out for the three days, the flavor is so much better, and forgiving on the thicker pieces.
If you use meat that has been languishing awhile in your freezer, trim off all fat and silver skin, or you will have old tasting jerky.
I plan about 5 days out for finished jerky. 1 day to thaw and quickly do a partial refreeze on cookie sheets for uniform slicing, then 3 days to marinate, and 1 day to dry. I tried slicing my meat when it was partially thawed to save time and I ended up with some too soft, and some too frozen, or in the case of a roast, I could not cut it while in its original shape. And the end result looked like Lizzie Borden had been hacking away at it. I decided to do the extra day.
Besides a being a homemade gift item, we have put a small jar in the vehicle emergency kit too. It's a good high protein snack to have on hand, and keeps indefinitely.
For me this has been a good way to use up so-so meat cuts that I have neglected, and the recipe is simple enough to change ingredients to suit what I may or may not have on hand - I can't wait to try Kevin's onion suggestion next!
Do you have any jerky making tips to share?