What a Jerk(y)!

We realized recently that we have a freezer shelf packed full of roasts from last year’s beef.  Since we’ll be butchering another beef in a couple months, 60 chickens in 5 or 6 weeks, and possibly a goat at an indeterminate time, we need to start eating some roasts!

Beef jerky is my Lay’s potato chips. “Betcha can’t eat just one!”  Of course, Lay’s are laden with MSG so it really is impossible to eat just one.  I wonder if MSG free jerky is as addicting as Lay’s chips.  Let’s find out.

Any lean meat will work for jerky.  If you are using something like beef, cut across the grain so the jerky will be more tender.  If using chicken, cut with the grain so the jerky doesn’t crumble.  Chill the meat in the freezer for about half an hour before you slice it.  It will be easiest to cut if it’s not quite frozen but not quite thawed.

The slices for homemade beef jerky should be between 1/8 and 1/4 of an inch thick.  Too thick and it won’t dry enough.  Too thin and it will get crunchy and brittle.  You can slice it with a sharp knife, a food slicer, or ask Chuck Norris or Superman for help.  Roundhouse kicks and lasers make short work of a roast.

I Googled jerky recipes and didn’t find anything that jumped out at me, so I opened that cabinet and pulled out a few ingredients I recognized from the recipes I saw online.

I didn’t measure, so I won’t pretend to know what quantities to put in.  Sprinkle, pour and dump these ingredients in a bowl, add a little olive oil, and mix it up.  If it’s no good, don’t blame me.  I didn’t tell you to put that much cayenne pepper in!

Mix the sliced meat in the marinade, making sure it’s thoroughly covered.  The longer it sits, the more the flavor will soak through.  A couple hours will work, but overnight is best.  Stir things up occasionally to keep things well coated.

The marinade should look something like this. Don't worry if you made too much marinade. You can freeze leftovers.

I’m planning to eventually build a solar dehydrator.  In the meantime, we have two electric dehydrators that I use.

After the meat has soaked in the marinade, spread it out on your dehydrator trays.  Be sure there’s enough room for air to flow through.

Finished jerky!

I’m pretty happy with how the jerky turned out.  Even Bethany, who for some inexplicable reason never liked jerky, has been eating this stuff.  It’s good enough that I have more marinating in the fridge as I write this.

Properly dried jerky is supposed to last for around 3 weeks in an airtight container.  Frozen, it will keep indefinitely, and the fridge should extend the life as well.  The first batch didn’t last 2 days at our house, so I can’t attest to the shelf life.

Turns out I really can’t eat just one.

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Husband, father, jack-of-all-trades.

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