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Friday, July 23, 2010

Beef Jerky

I honestly just don't know what's wrong with me! Twenty something days since my last post... you know why? Because I just haven't felt like cooking. .:GASP:. Say it ain't so!! Really. I've done very little cooking since July came around. The few times I have put something together, it very often is something I have already posted. The good thing is that means what I have posted so far are things that I think are good enough to make over and over.

I'm not sure what is to blame for this lack of kitchen-ness, but I suspect it might have something to do with our recent attempts to tame the jungle in our back yard. Most days, I can only make it out there for 2-3 hours, lest I kill myself from heat stroke. I don't know what my problem is... I mean, it's only been 117 degrees with the heat index lately. Fortunately, the yard is really starting to look like something. Anyway. I'm really not sure what has caused my recent reluctance to cook, but I'm sure it will go away soon. It better!

One thing that I did make recently, mainly because I saw London broil on sale at the market, was beef jerky. Homemade jerky is really nice because you get to determine the seasonings and how much salt you want to use. While some salt is really required if you want your jerky to have any staying power at all, it doesn't have to make your tongue burn!

I think London broil is really a good choice for making jerky. There are other cuts you can use such as flank or skirt steak, but London broil is so easy to cut into nice strips and it isn't overly fatty. This is a good thing because too much fat means your jerky can turn rancid on you pretty quickly.

I slice mine about 3/8 of an inch thick. You can partially freeze the meat to facilitate cutting even strips, but I find as long as my knife is sharp, I can do a good job with thawed meat. Cut the meat across the grain, unless you really like to chew and chew... and chew.

Marinate the meat in a seasoning mixture. I like to use soy sauce as my base, but you could use teriyaki or even just use spices alone. You can experiment with spice blends, but my favorite is Chef Paul Prudhome's Meat Magic. It has a slight smokiness and blend of spices that I think is great in a jerky. Set the meat aside, covered, for about an hour.

Lay the strips out on the racks of a dehydrator leaving plenty of space between each slice. You can do this in an oven, but I find the results are less than spectacular. I think the reasons are two-fold: the lowest temperatures available in most ovens are not low enough and there isn't as much air flow.

If you don't already have a dehydrator and are in the market to get one, I strongly advise getting one that provides some temperature control. Depending on what you are dehydrating, you'll want to use different temperature settings. To dry meats, you want a temperature somewhere between 150 and 170 degrees, but most herbs want a more delicate temperature of less than 100 degrees.


Beef Jerky
Yield: approximately 3/4 lb of jerky

2 lbs London broil, trimmed of fat and sliced across the grain 3/8 inch thick
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 TBS Chef Paul Prudhome's Meat Magic seasoning blend (or any other you prefer)
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper

Marinate meat strips in the soy sauce and seasoning, covered, at room temperature for one hour. Place, spaced out, in a single thickness on the trays of a dehydrator. Dry at approximately 165 degrees for 4-6 hours. The time it takes will vary depending on the meat and the climate. Be careful not to over dry or the meat will end up very hard to eat. When you take it out of the dehydrator it will be somewhat inflexible. Place in an airtight container immediately to store. Jerky will soften somewhat once cooled and be easier to eat than when fresh off the dehyrator tray.

8 comments:

  1. Do you like your Nesco dehydrator? I have been researching dehydrators and trying to make a decision on which one to get.

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  2. I do like my dehydrator quite a bit. I like having the temperature control and I like that I can extend the number of trays such that I can dry a very large amount of food. I can't remember the exact number of trays it can take, but I think it's somewhere around 12. I haven't ever had any trouble with it and can recommend it without reservation.

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  3. This looks great, I had just bought some Meat Magic, having been very happy with other Paul Pruhome products.

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  4. How do you keep the jerky from turning so brown? Mine looked like over cooked meat. Taste was great appearance not so much.

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  5. Yikes! Sorry about not getting back with you earlier! I guess I'm not sure how you mean brown, since mine are quite dark brown. Perhaps it was not marinating the meat long enough in the soy sauce, since that colors the meat a nice hue? The other thing I've found is that if you don't dry it long enough, sometimes it has a paler hue that is not as nice to look at. I hope this helps. Sometimes it's really hard to diagnose a problem without actually seeing it!

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  6. Hi There,
    is there anything else you'd recommend to replace the Soy Sauce in making Jerky?

    I'm really allergic to Soy in any form. And also anything that has corn or it's derivatives.

    I also appreciate your recommendation on the Nesco Dehydrator. I've got an old one that doesn't have a fan and no heat settings. It's just the basic dehydrator with a heat element in the bottom. I believe it's the old Ronco-Peel Dehydrator that they had on TV (Infomercial) that I purchased years ago, probably in the 1990's. So as you can see, it's time that I replace it with something better.

    Thank You in Advance ;-)

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sharla, thanks for stopping by. The good news is that the soy sauce is only for flavor, so you can use anything else (or nothing) that sounds tasty to you. The beef will dry just fine without any soy sauce or liquid on it at all. Obviously, some salt helps the jerky keep better, but the meat doesn't care if it comes in the form of soy sauce or some salt seasoning mixture. You could try a liberal sprinkling of a Chicago steak seasoning mixture. A smokey salt? I have recently started adding a tiny amount of vegetable oil to my jerky and I think it would benefit you here. It seems like it helps keep the meat just a tiny bit more pliable when it's dry. I hope that helps! And, just as an aside, I am *still* using the heck out of my Nesco dehydrator. It's definitely paid for itself and then some!

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