Monday, April 29, 2013

Beef Jerky Day

I make beef jerky, mostly for my wife, and thought I'd go through the process.  It's really easy and quite economical compared to buying the stuff in stores.  I start with the leanest beef I can find; usually that means Select grade eye of round roast.  First I remove all the fat that I can then slice it into steaks and slice the steaks into strips.  I want strips that are somewhere between one eighth and one sixteenth of an inch (1.5 to 3 mm) thick.  Uniformity is important of course so the strips dry at the same rate but I don't get too wild and crazy.
Being foolish I didn't weigh this piece of meat before starting to slice it however I ended up with two pounds three ounces (1 kg) of sliced meat.  It cost $3.99 a pound so I've got about $9 worth of meat here.  That isn't a very good price, I often find it for less but this what I could find today.  (Well, yesterday was when I actually started this process!)  You see how I take the fat off the outside of the steak.  I leave those small white pieces of fat in the slice unless they are considerably larger than the ones you see.  You don't want the fat because it will get rancid.  This is a nice size roast for me since my dehydrator has only five racks.  The most meat I can get onto it is about three pounds (1.3 kg). 

Next comes marinating.  I marinate the meat overnight in a Ziplock bag in the fridge; hopefully remembering to turn it over once or twice.  Here are my marinade ingredients.
You can check the internet for marinades; there are probably as many as there are jerky makers but this is somewhat representative.  Soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, liquid smoke, onion powder, garlic powder and red pepper flakes is what I use.  I try to have about three-quarters of a cup (175 ml) of marinade for this amount of meat.  It really helps if you don't spill the onion powder all over the counter and the floor like I did!  I squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible and let it work overnight.

This morning I loaded up the dehydrator and let it do it's thing.  Here I have four of the five racks loaded.  This is a Nesco dehydrator; it claims to be drying the jerky at 160F (71C) and has lower settings for fruits, vegies and nuts.  It works well but the racks are plastic and are just nasty to clean and pretty easy to break.  I usually add a grind of black pepper over the jerky just before turning it on; I like the bite the black pepper gives.

At the end of a few hours (three to five) we have beef jerky.  Some people recommend drying off the meat with a paper towel or something prior to drying it; I've never done that.  One of the things about making your own jerky is that you get it the way you like it.  My wife likes spicy so I use quite a bit of red pepper flakes and add the black pepper.  She also like it somewhat chewy so we don't dry it as much as someone else might.  Others might like it sweeter so they might add honey to the marinade.  Bottom line is that you get it how you want to make it. 

Here are the three baggies full of beef jerky.  I got twelve and three-quarters ounces (.34kg) of jerky from this batch.  That's not bad for $9 and a little time. 

Have a good one.

1 comment:

JoeinVegas said...

Cooking with Don day! (well, food prep, almost cooking)