Sunday, January 22, 2012

More cooking??

Yep, got all crazy the other day and bought some meat for jerky.  I only do one kind - beef.  I know people can make jerky from all kinds of other meat but beef is what my wife likes so that's what I make.  If I was a hunter I guess I'd try venison but since I'm not a hunter, well, duh! 

I get a cheap cut of beef, something with as little internal fat as possible.  I cut it up one day, marinate it overnight then dry it the second day.  You need a good sharp knife but it only takes me about an hour to cut up 3 or 4lb (just shy of 2 kg) of meat into thin strips.  Marinating brings a lot of flavor and, because you are doing it yourself, you can have it any way you like it.  Most jerky marinades I've seen start with soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce then add spices.  I use about a third soy and two-thirds Worcestershire; ending with about three-fourths of a cup (.2L)of marinade.   Then I add some liquid smoke, onion powder, garlic powder and a good handful of red pepper flakes.  I put the meat and the marinade into a large Ziplock bag, mush it around a bit to distribute the marinade and toss it in the fridge for the evening. 

If I remember I'll give the bag a turn a few times before I go to bed; it really does help to distribute the marinade.  In the morning, we are ready to dry.  It takes 15 or 20 minutes to load the meat onto the trays.  The 3 or 4 lb of meat will fill all five trays.  Because we like it spicy I add a generous grind of black pepper over each piece.  I plug the dehydrator in and we are off and running.  I've heard of people making jerky in the oven and leaving the door open all day to keep the heat down but this is just so easy.

I use a Nesco dehydrator that I bought from Amazon.  Nesco seems to have the home dehydrator market pretty well covered.  I like mine just fine but I do wish they were available with metal trays.  The plastic trays are fragile and difficult to clean.  I remember reading some recipe where the person was patting the meat dry before putting it in the dehydrator; I don't bother.  It takes about five hours to dry to the level we like; I swap the trays around about half way through the process.  Some people would probably want it dryer, some might like it less dry and more chewy.  The dehydrator has different heat settings - 95F/35C for herbs, 135F/57C for fruits and vegies, 165F/71C for meats. 

I'll end up with perhaps 8 oz. (.2kg) of jerky.  How long it lasts depends on how many people are here!  We keep it in the fridge though I doubt you really need to. 

Anyway, that's my report for the morning.  Have a good one!

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