One of America’s favorite food of all time: beef jerky. It has been done since the olden days. Our ancestors use to dry the strips of meat on top of the fire for days. Well, it’s worth the fuss because beef jerky can last for a long time. Although we do not need to preserve food anymore, beef jerky is still a delicious snack to have especially if you are going on a camping trip.
Without mentioning, it is also really expensive to buy it from the market. After learning how to make them myself, I’ve never bought it from the market as I feel that mine, definitely, taste better. So, I will like to share my recipe with you.
Step 1: Select a cut of meat. Nowadays, there are many cuts that are available on the market. Choose wisely. I will advice you to spend a little more and pick a lean cut like sirloin or flank steak to name a few. This will help you to save time later.
Step 2: You will need to slice your meat into a ½ inch thick and 1 inch wide measurement. To make it easier for you to slice, you can freeze it for about 2 to 5 hours beforehand. While slicing your strips, make sure that you trim any additional fat along the way because fat does not dry. You can either slice it against or with the grain but most people find that slicing against the grain make it easier to chew.
However, if you feel that you neither have the time nor the skill to do it, you can ask your butcher to do it for you. They will usually charge $10 for their service. The thumb rule is 4 pounds of meat will produce only 1 pound of beef jerky.
Step 3: Here comes the best part. It is your secret weapon against all those beef jerky products on the shelves. Marinate your meat according to your preference. My favorite is to add some soy sauce and paprika for my beloved teriyaki taste. Since I have a little sweet tooth, I usually add some brown sugar as well.
There is no boundary as to how you want to make your beef jerky. You can marinate it in any sauce you desire. Finally, add salt and pepper to taste. Marinating should take about 10 to 24 hours to absorb the flavors.
Step 4: It’s time to dehydrate the meat. You can either use a dehydrator or an oven. However, I will prefer to use the oven when it comes to making beef jerky. If you are planning to use the dehydrator, follow the instruction manual. Place your strips of meat on the wire rack with room in between making sure that they do not touch each other. Preheat the oven to 150oF.
Remember to leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. You can put a layer of aluminum foil at the bottom of the oven to aid cleaning later. There is no specific time on how long it takes to dehydrate the beef jerky as it will depend on the temperature, humidity and slice thickness. However, a rough estimation will be about 2 to 6 hours.
Step 5: It’s done. The strips of meat will turn dark brown or burgundy in color. Keep your homemade beef jerky in a plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator. It is ready to eat after 2 weeks. Enjoy!