How To Make Beef Jerky
It’s got to be a rule that every hombre knows how to make their own jerky right?
I mean, since the Manifest Destiny, cowboys have been hunting down their mets, and laying them over their fires to dry.
Now, we don’t expect you to herd your own cattle, and do all the heavy lifting, but making jerky can be an awesome tool to have in your tool belt.
Whether having the guys over to watch the game, or having a barbeque you never know when this skill will come in handy. Plus how impressed will everyone be to find out that YOU made the jerky?
First Things First, What is Jerky?
Jerky is basically the drying out of a meat product. While the most common type of meat is beef, you can get as crazy as you want with your meat choice. Make it simple with turkey or bison, or get exotic with your choices like alligator or kangaroo.
Jerky originated as a method of preservation. Early humans realized that when dried out, their meat didn’t rot like it did when left fresh. This is because jerky styled meat renders the meat of bacteria that would otherwise make it inedible.
Drying the meat helps to preserve it and keep it fresher for longer periods of time, extending its shelf life. Originally, meat was hung out to dry in the sun or over fires to smoke. However, today we can utilize technology to create a vast collection of jerky textures.
How To Make Jerky
We are going to pretend that you have chosen to make beef jerky in this explanation. To start, select a premium choice beef cut for your jerky. Not sure which meat to use, click here for a list of the best meats to use for Jerky making.
The next step is to slice your meat into small strips. Making the strips small and as even as you can is essential, this way the meat dries out to the same consistency .
Pro-tip: to make it easier to cut, place your meat in the freezer for 30 minutes. You’ll want it to be easy to cut to get those slices nice and thin.
One of the most important steps is to trim the fat! Fat can’t dry out and stays moist through the drying process. This opens the door for bacteria, and can cause the jerky to rot if not properly removed.
Next, you’ll want to marinate the meat using a recipe of your choice. Now keep in mind that there is a difference between old-school jerky and gourmet jerky. One involves a dry rub blend of spices, and the other involves marinating the meat in a liquid.
Because it's hard to mess up a good marinated jerky recipe, let’s master that skill first. Here are two recipes for beef jerky marinade that you can follow if you don’t know where to begin!
Are you the kind of hombre who can’t start the day without a cup of joe? Instructables.com shared this amazing Coffee Jerky Marinade that you can find below.
- 2 cups dark roast coffee (brewed) --- no added flavors, i.e. vanilla, hazelnut, etc.
- 1/4 cup Fresh Ground Coffee --- same as above
- 5 Tbsp Liquid Smoke --- I like the Mesquite flavor
- 1/4 cup Ancho chili powder
- 1/4 cup Brown Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 1 Tbsp Cumin
- 2 Tbsp Kosher Salt
Add all of your ingredients to a tupperware container and add spices to your rub. Once you have added the proper amount of rub to your marinade, mix it up thoroughly, add your strips, cover, and let soak in the refrigerator for around 12 hours.
Want something a little more sweet and spicy? Check out this recipe for Dr.Pepper Jalapeno Jerky found at HeyGrillHey.com.
For the marinade:
- 2 cups Dr. Pepper
- 2 jalapenos sliced
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- In a medium saucepan, combine all of the ingredients for the marinade. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the mixture has reduced by half. You should have just over a cup of marinade. Chill the marinade completely.
- Transfer the sliced beef to a gallon sized zip top bag and pour in the marinade. Massage the marinade into the meat and refrigerate for 8-12 hours, or overnight.
Now that you have made your marinade, put that bad boy in the fridge and let the meat soak up those juices! Make sure you leave your meat in the marinade for 4-24 hours in order to soak up all of those delicious flavors!
If you have a dehydrator on deck, then pull that bad boy out and use it to make your jerky!
First, add any additional spices to your jerky to maximize those flavors.
Jerkyholic.com suggests that you turn your dehydrator to 160° and let it run for 4 hours. The main thing you want to ensure is that your jerky’s internal temperature reaches 160°. Some jerky takes longer, and some takes less, so make sure you keep an eye on it during the drying process.
Whatever you do, make sure your jerky doesn’t get too dry. To know your jerky is done, check for bends and cracks in the meat. However, if your jerky completely breaks in half, then it has become over-dry.
Don’t forget to let your jerky completely cool before you dive in. This may take a few hours, but be patient! You do not want to burn your taste buds before you can taste your delicious jerky.
Don’t have a dehydrator? No problem! The Pioneer Woman shares how to dry your jerky in an oven!
“Preheat oven to 175ºF. Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with foil. Place a metal rack over the foil on each pan.
Lay the beef in a single layer across the racks. Bake for 3 to 4 hours, checking at the 3-hour mark for texture. Let a tester piece cool, then tug and taste. If it’s perfect take all the beef jerky out of the oven. (Bake 2–3 hours in a convection oven.)
Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks.”
Once you master the jerky making process, then your flavor possibilities are endless! Using your new found skill, get creative in the kitchen and whip up some different marinades to leave your taste buds guessing.
Got a cool jerky recipe to share? Let us know in the comments so we can all try it out!