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.
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.