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!