Beef Jerky – Traditional

There is just something special about beef jerky…   DSC04810

It has just about anything you could want in a food: texture, chew, salt, sweet and heat. Store bought jerky is healthier than most snacks, but it is very expensive. If you start making your own it is even healthier for you and healthier on your wallet. For me cooking is fun, relaxing, and is not supposed to be stressful. In my very first post, it is beef jerky on the menu…lets get started!

Background: Jerky can be made from almost any type of meat, in this case we showcase beef, top round to be specific. Jerky can also take on almost any flavors you throw at it, either dry rub or wet marinade. For today’s jerky we will be using a traditional dry rub, which is a good starting point to experiment with. This seasoning has a nice combination of savory flavors, a little sweet and just a little kick of heat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. of top round beef (trimmed of all visible fat)
  • 1 ½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon paprika

Variation – add ½ teaspoon cumin or replace the ground coriander with ½ teaspoon of cumin. The cumin will give it a very distinctive, almost “taco” flavor. Don’t be afraid of it, the flavor is a little punch but does not linger or overpower.

Step One – Prepare the Seasoning: It is that simple, combine all dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

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Step Two – Prepare the Meat: As mentioned above, today we will be using Top Round, but bottom round and eye of round are also good options. The key for the meat is to have it be as lean as possible to start and then still trim off as much visible fat as possible. Leaving fat on the meat can cause it to go rancid. Obviously you can’t get every single sliver of fat, but take your time to get as much as you can.

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After trimming the fat, cut your meat into the sizes you prefer. As you can see from the pictures, I prefer both thin and relatively short pieces. I also prefer cutting against the grain. I want my jerky to have some chew, but I don’t want my jaw to hurt after eating three pieces. If you prefer more chew, please feel free to cut with the grain and not against it.

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Step Three – Season the Meat: Evenly coat both sides of meat, be sure to use all of it even if it seems like too much. Now the waiting game begins, take all of the seasoned meat and place in a re-sealable bag and leave in the fridge overnight or up to 24 hours. The overnight storage is not necessary, but does make a big difference.

Step Four – Dehydrate: Dehydration can be achieved via oven, smoker or an actual dehydrator. I prefer to use my dehydrator, it is very easy to set a temperature as well as a timer with an automatic shut off. The size jerky that I cut will take 3.5 hours at 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to follow all manufactures instructions on your dehydrator. Please adjust your cook times accordingly, as the larger the pieces then the longer it will take.

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Step Five – Enjoy: The best part about beef jerky, especially homemade, is that it tastes just as good as a healthy snack at the office, as it does sitting around drinking beer and watching sports with friends.

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Step Six – Storage: Beef jerky will last a long time if needed, but you will likely eat it very fast. Prior to storage use a paper towel to remove any excess moisture or oil from the meat. If long term storage is needed you can leave it in an airtight container or bag in a cool and dry spot for at least a few weeks. In the fridge it can last a few months, and lastly the freezer is an option (vacuum seal if possible) for up to a year.

Please feel free to comment and ask questions if needed. Cooking is something that I am very passionate about, so please come back for more recipes and share this blog with family and friends if you enjoy it.

This recipe was adapted from Michael Symon’s book Carnivore

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