You don't need a special smoker or dehydrator to make great beef jerky.
Winter is the time to make beef jerky -- hopefully enough to last all summer, because in summer we try to avoid using the oven, cooking everything outside so as not to heat up the house. In winter, having the oven on for five hours is a good thing.
It took some tuning to get the flavor and the amount of saltiness right, but I'm happy with my recipe now.
- thinly sliced beef or pork: about a pound or two
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 3/4 tbsp salt
- Any additional seasonings you desire: pepper, chile powder, sage, ginger, sugar, etc.
Heat water slightly (30-40 sec in microwave) to help dissolve salt. Mix all ingredients except beef.
Cut meat into small pieces, trimming fat as much as possible.
Marinate in warm salt solution for 15 min, stirring occasionally. (For pork, you might want a shorter marinating time. I haven't tried other meats.)
Set the oven on its lowest temperature (170F here).
Lay out beef on a rack, with pieces not touching or overlapping.
Nobody seems to sell actual cooking racks, but you can buy "cooling racks" for cooling cookies, which seem to work fine for jerky. They're small so you probably need two racks for a pound of beef.
Ideally, put the rack on one oven shelf with a layer of foil
on the rack below to catch the drips.
You want as much air space as possible under the meat. You can put the rack on a cookie sheet, but it'll take longer to cook and you'll have to turn the meat halfway through. Don't lay the beef directly on cookie sheet or foil unless you absolutely can't find a rack.
Cook until sufficiently dry and getting hard, about 4 to 4-1/2 hours at 170F depending on how dry you like your jerky. Drier jerky will keep longer unrefrigerated, but it's not as tasty. I cook mine a little less and store it in the fridge when I'm not actually carrying it hiking or traveling.
If you're using a cookie sheet, turn the pieces once at around 2-3 hours when the tops start to look dry and dark.
Tip: if you're using a rack without a cookie sheet, a fork wedged between the bars of the rack makes it easy to remove a rack from the oven.
[ 12:24 Mar 04, 2016 More recipes | permalink to this entry | ]