Jerky is the perfect snack food IMHO. It has a long shelf life, a great source of protein, travels well, and is utterly delicious.
Today I’m going to share with you a couple very easy ways to make delicious jerky at home with my personal pepper crusted jerky recipe. The techniques are simple to follow and there’s a decent chance you have most of what you will need already.
Preparing the Meat
Choosing the right cut of meat is extremely important when making high quality jerky. I would recommend using top round, eye of round, or bottom round as they are great lean cuts to use and are very flavorful. What ever cut you choose, just make sure it’s lean with little to no marbling. Fat can go rancid which could possibly ruin your jerky.
When it comes to slicing the meat you can either slice the strips with the grain or against the grain. The choice is completely a personal preference. If you like a tender bite you will want to slice against the grain, and if you prefer a more chewy bite you will want to slice with the grain. Finally the thickness of the slice shouldn’t be too big. I personally like a 1/4 inch (6mm) slice but you can go a little bigger or smaller if you prefer. Just make sure your slices are around the same size so that they can dry evenly.
Preparing the Marinade
When it comes to making jerky, you can get completely wild with the flavors. Just remember that your meat will lose 75% of it’s moisture and whatever flavorings you add will concentrate during the drying time. The recipe that I wrote out for you today produces a very balanced middle of the road jerky. It’s got a very nice acidity with a sweetness that plays well with the savory BBQ Smoky elements. Use this recipe as a base and adjust as you see fit.
I do want to add that meat will naturally absorb liquid so I tend to add a total of 1/2 cup of liquids per pound of meat (along with my spices). This ensures that most if not all of your liquid gets absorbed by the meat and you’re not leaving any of those delicious flavors behind
When you add the marinade to the meat, it’s important to give the meat a good mix. Be sure to really separate all of the meat pieces in the marinade so they they can all get evenly coated. Once you feel it’s been well mixed, cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours (I personally let mine marinate for 16 hours). Sometime during this process (usually around 4-5 hours into it) I’ll take the beef out and give it another mix. It’s optional but it ensures that the meat and the marinade get’s evenly incorporated.
Drying the meat
One easy way to dry your meat when making jerky, is in your home oven. Simply preheat your oven to it’s lowest setting (175-200f), place your marinated jerky pieces on a drying rack on a baking sheet (ensuring that they don’t overlap), then place the meat in your oven (making sure you leave the door to your oven slightly open). This will help the excess moisture escape and allow your jerky to dry out evenly. I have used this method many times and although it works great there are a few downsides.
For starters you are highly limited on space. If you only make 1 or 2 pounds of jerky then it’s not that big of a deal but if plan on making 10 pounds of jerky, the oven method will literally take you several days as you run the jerky in batches. The other issue is temperature control. Oven’s are generally not designed to cook at very low temperatures so you might find it difficult to get your oven to the required low temperature. With that being said though, if you have an oven that has a low option and you only make small batches of jerky at a time, this oven method might be a perfect inexpensive way for you to dry your meat.
Another way is by using a dehydrator. This method is a lot more efficient, as dehydrators are able to heat at low temperatures with a constant fan blowing against the food. This allows you to dry the meat in a more precisely controlled environment which tends to produce a better product.
Using a dehydrator also gives you lots of space to dry your meat. Dehydrators come with several shelves (depending on the model that you have) and you can stack these shelve vertically, drastically increasing the amount of jerky you can make at one time. 7 years ago we bought 2 dehydrators and we still use them to this day. We use a 5 tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator and a 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator. They are both well built and a worthy investment.
Enjoy the video and the recipe where I take you through the entire process of makin beef jerky. If you have any questions let me know..
Here are a few things you might find useful when making beef Jerky
- Accurate scale for meat (up to 33 pounds)
- Sharp Kitchen Knives
- Stainless Steel drying racks (Be sure to check the size)
- Baking Tray
- Food Dehydrator
- Liquid Smoke
- Heavy Duty Kitchen Vacuum Sealer
Pepper Crusted Pineapple Jerky
For the pepper crust
- fresh cracked black pepper add as much as you like
Prepare the beef
- Start by partially freezing your beef (Top Round, Eye of Round, or Bottom Round make good cuts for beef jerky)
- Clean the beef of all silver skin and fat
- Slice the semi frozen beef pieces in 1/4 inch (6mm) slices. If you want extra tender pieces slice the meat against the grain. If you want extra chewy pieces slice with the grain. Try to keep the slices of meat as even as possible.
- Weigh out your cleaned and prepared meat to the amount called for in this recipe.
- For the marinade, combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk.
- Add the marinade to the meat and mix well. Be sure to fully separate all of the meat pieces so that the marinade will completely absorb into all of the meat evenly
- cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours. About half way through be sure to give the meat another good mix. This ensures that everything is distributed evenly. (I generally let the meat marinate for 16 hours)
If you plan on drying the meat in your oven
- remove the marinated beef from the refrigerator and place the strips of meat onto a drying rack on a bake pan.
- Preheat your oven to it's lowest setting 170f – 200f (77c – 93c). Once preheated, place the trays of beef in the oven and partially close the door. I keep my oven door open about 2-3 inches during this process.
- After 4-5 hours check to see their doneness. If they are dry and pliable (you will notice slight creases form when you bend it) they are finished. They should bend like a green branch. Easy to bend but won't snap. If they are still too wet leave them in for longer. Monitor every 30 minutes at this point.
If you plan on drying the meat in your dehydrator
- remove the marinated beef from the refrigerator and place the strips of meat onto a the dehydrator's drying rack.
- Set the temperature on your dehydrator to 145f-155f (63c-68c)
- Place the trays of meat in your dehydrator and let them dry for 3-5 hours
- After 3 hours check to see their doneness. If they are dry and pliable (you will notice slight creases form when you bend it) they are finished. They should bend like a green branch. Easy to bend but won't snap. If they are still too wet leave them in for longer. Monitor every 30 minutes at this point.
To finish the process (pasteurize the jerky)
- Once your beef has finished drying (regardless of the method you chose to use) we need to pasteurize it. Preheat your oven to 275f (135c). As soon as your oven has been preheated, place the dried jerky on a tray (ensuring that they don't overlap), and place it in the oven for 10 minutes. This final step ensures that 100% of any unwanted pathogens are killed off and your jerky is now ready to eat or store for later.
Storing your jerky
- To store your jerky you can either refrigerate it for up to a month or place it in vacuum sealed bags and store in the freezer for up to 12 months
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