Of all the snackable snacks which do not come from a box nor are laden with stabilizers and guar gum, Beef Jerky might just top my list. A perfectly dried, chewy but digestible, flavorsplosion of meaty umami spicy goodness....that, my friends, is pretty hard to beat.
Hence my dilemma about store bought jerky. Frequently, it just isn't very good - dry or metallic or over salted to compensate for poor quality meat. Or more frequently, it's loaded with sugar, or wheat starch, or soy, or shelf-stabilizers.
SCARY STUFF. And it was ruining one of my favorite snacks. How to proceed...??? Oven dehydrating just wasn't going well for me for anything - I'm rarely home long enough and not sleeping to safely leave the oven on, and it's almost always still too hot even on the lowest setting.
Dehydrator to the rescue!
Jerky and fruit leather and kale chips = WAY EASIER TO MAKE THAN YOU THINK.
No excuses. It's revived my ability to eat Paleo and eat well.
But the cost you say?? Non-issue. I made this jerky with expensive top sirloin bison because I wanted non-ground bison and it's all I could find. $9 for 1lb made ~3oz jerky -- bison jerky sells for $10/2oz at Wild Idea plus S&H, or $2.50 for a 1oz tanka bar that's half cranberries...this is good savings! And better meat. And tastier. And no garbage fillers. WIN!
Very lean grass fed beef or bison steaks: Flank or broil steak work well, I splurged on sirloin because that was what I could find -not necessary. 1lb meat = 3oz jerky
Marinade: whatever you like! I used...
1/4c coconut aminos
1tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
Dash each onion, garlic, chili & cayenne powders
Cracked black pepper
(Jerk seasoning would also be awesome! Next time...)
Easy Peasy -
Slice. Marinade. Dehydrate. Eat.
You can freeze for an hour first to make it firmer for slicing if you like. Use a sharp non-serrated knife. Trim any white fat or connective tissue.
Slice the meat into about 1/8" slices, then toss with marinade in a small glass dish and cover. Make sure the marinade is covering the meat and all sides are being marinaded. You could use a ziploc too, but I don't like the idea of letting a tenderizing acidic marinade sit in plastic for 24 hours.
Marinade at least overnight, preferably 24 hours.
Place on parchment paper on your dehydrator rack and dehydrate at 160° for ~3 hours- turning halfway through. You want them dry but flexible, not brittle or crumbly.Seriously. Done. Hide it from your family and friends and dog and self - it'll be Gone. Maybe not a bad thing... :)
Oven: Preheat to the lowest setting, place jerky on a wire rack over a lined cookie sheet to catch any drippings, leave the door open a crack to let moisture and excess heat out. Flip the jerkies over after 4-5 hours and go another 4-5 depending on thickness and volume of jerkies. (I have not tried this method - instructions compiled from various interwebs sources).
Calories for the whole batch: ~600. Fat 20g. Protein 100g!! Seriously. Sodium: ~200mg unless you add a lot.
Note on Dehydrators:
I got a Nesco Snackmaster a couple months ago - a fraction of the cost of the Excalibur and perfect for one or two people. However, if you are feeding a family or frequently preserve larger quantities of foods from hunting, gardening, or gathering at the market sales --go for the bigger Excalibur with flat square trays--much easier to load and unload and clean, with a larger total surface area for fewer batches.
I'm researching Pemmican now... that will be my next meaty adventure!
Sometimes, I just NEED Chinese food in my life. But I know that if I order it from Panda Express my tummy and skin will be so sad later that I'll start to get sad, and tears will ruin any good meal. SO. I give you...the deconstructed potsticker! Fully gluten-free - and makes a fabulous fully paleo sauté if you choose to omit the rice noodles all together.
I got the idea watching my good friend Vina make potsickers with essentially the same ingredients - now I can enjoy them without the wheat dough!
1lb grassfed ground beef - look at that color!
1 small cabbage chopped finely or shredded
3 large carrots sliced into coins
1 onion chopped finely
1tbsp sesame oil
2tbsp peanut oil
seasonings: 2tsp ginger (if fresh- grate it), 1tbsp chili garlic paste, salt and pepper
Pour the peanut oil into the skillet to coat the bottom. It can take a high heat and is relatively flavorless- ideal for sautées. Add the beef, cabbage, carrots and onion. Toss and sauté over medium heat for a few minutes, then add the sesame oil and seasonings and prepare yourself for the barrage of sensual deliciousness!
Meanwhile...boil a pot of water and add the rice noodles, about 2 servings or 1 good handful, to the water and cook until al dente. Meaning- soft and slippery, but when you bite it the noodle still has form. This is a fine line -rice noodles turn to mush-noodles quickly!
Continue to cook until the meat is browned and the veggies are done to your liking. I like my carrots a little tender-soft so I can bite them without a real crunch but not so soft that they're mushy. The cabbage and carrots should be translucent.
Add the cooked rice noodles and toss it all together in the pan so the flavors soak into the noodles and enjoy your very healthy, very happy, delicious Chinese dinner.
Nom nom nom!
Tired of boring greens? Or...need something else to do with the armloads you bring home from the CSA every week?? I did...seriously...so many greens.....
On that note - there have been some disturbing blog posts circulating the interwebs lately about greens and green smoothies being bad for health because of the high oxalate content and predisposition to kidney stones. Greens do have oxalate which can cause stones, but only in excess or dehydrated individuals! PLEASE do not decrease your consumption of greens out of fear. Drink water. Eat your greens in moderation. If you are existing solely on pulverized raw greens for 3 meals a day we may have a problem, but any self respecting Southern woman eats several cups of greens daily, cooked and raw, when the season is high and no harm's come of it.
That said..on to the island sauté!
3-4 cups roughly chopped greens- kale and collards work great
1 onion, chopped
1c chicken cooked or raw
1c pineapple chopped
1 avocado chopped
2tbsp coconut oil
salt and pepper to taste
Toss the greens into your hot skillet with 1 chopped onion. I learned a few years ago the best way to good greens is to grease them up first then to add the liquid - it's the ONLY way I cook greens now to preserve flavor and texture! So add 2tbsp coconut oil and toss over medium heat until the greens are bright and shiny, then add - bear with me here - pineapple chunks and chicken pieces (I used cooked leftovers- if raw just cook until done). Take off the heat, toss with ginger and a little salt and pepper, and add 1 chopped avocado to the hot mix.
True to form - this is quick, easy, few ingredients, and it'll knock your boyfriend's socks off.
Mmmmm tropical kale anyone??