When it’s time for a road trip, the one thing that must accompany me is a bag of beef jerky. The problem with being a jerky junky is the cost. Granted, it’s not cutting-copper-pipes-out-of-construction-sites or forays-into-amateur-chemistry expensive, but it does add up over time. Other than BBQ, jerky was one of my first true culinary accomplishments. This recipe is one of the first I created and I’ve used it ever since. It’s easy, relatively cheap, and it tastes phenomenal!
First things first, you will need to acquire some beef. Any cut of lean beef will work well but very lean cuts work the best. Eye of round, bottom round, and sirloin are all great choices. A 3-4 pound roast will work just fine. If you’re feeling extra adventuresome, grab a whole sirloin tip and cut out a few steaks, then use the rest for jerky.
Trim as much excess fat and connective tissue as you can. Fat is the enemy. It is the first thing to spoil and go rancid, so it is the determining factor of your jerky’s shelf life. Eliminate as much as you can.
After you’ve cleaned up your meat, it’s time to slice it. Be sure and chill the meat in the freezer for 30-45 minutes before you start. You don’t want to freeze it, just make it firmer so it’s easier to slice. Cut slices from your roast about 3/16th of an inch thick. A sharp knife and steady hand work well here. A deli slicer is even better.
If you don’t have a slicer, a sharp knife, or a steady hand you’re still in luck. Jerky still tastes great even if you mangle it beyond recognition. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, as long as it’s relatively thin.
After cutting your slices, it’s time to mix the marinade. Combine all the ingredients listed below in a non-reactive container such as glass or food grade plastic and toss in your beef slices. If you don’t like smoke flavor or want to dry the beef in a smoker feel free to leave out the liquid smoke. Give everything a good mix and pop it in the refrigerator. Let it marinade for at least 12 hours, with 24 being ideal.
To dry the meat, set your dehydrator or smoker between 155 and 165 degrees and dry for 5-8 hours or until it reaches the texture you desire. I personally use a combination of an Amazen Pellet Tube Smoker and an Excalibur Food Dehydrator to achieve optimal results.
After 5-8 hours have passed, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labor! Jerky should have a shelf life of 2 weeks if refrigerated, and 4 months if you vacuum seal and freeze it. If you seal your jerky in mason jars using the canning method they should last at least a year.
- 3-4lbs of lean beef. Eye of round, bottom round, or sirloin work well.
- 1 cup of Worcestershire
- 1 cup of Soy Sauce
- ½ cup of water
- 2 TBS of brown sugar
- 1 TBS of onion powder
- 1 TBS of garlic powder
- 1 TBS of black pepper
- 1 tsp of Tabasco
- ¼ tsp of cayenne
- ¼ tsp of chipotle (optional)
- 1 tsp of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 TBS of liquid smoke (optional)
- Trim all exterior fat and connective tissue from meat
- Cut meat across the grain in 3/16th of an inch slices (a deli slicer makes quick work of this)
- Combine all ingredients in a non reactive container and mix together until ingredients have dissolved.
- Marinate meat a minimum of 12 hours 24 is preferred.
- Place meat in dehydrator or smoker at 155-165 for 5-8 hours or until dried to your liking (some people may want a soft and chewy jerky, while others want it crispy)