26 February 2009

Oh Boy! It's NOT Oberto

Every so often, a friend will gift me with Venison Jerky (home smoked), Salami, Pepperoni, and of course the much coveted and incredible Elk Steaks. (The tenderloin is to die for, especially served with hand picked Morels, sautéed in olive oil). Another friend, makes beef jerky regularly, in his little dehydrator at home. He was my inspiration to try it myself, and recently, I have been experimenting with my own recipes.

This is a delicious and healthy treat. It's also incredibly easy to make, far more affordable than purchased jerky, and it gives you complete control over what you put on it. Personally, I can't eat jerky unless it is all natural. The nitrates, high levels of sodium, and sugar that packaged jerky contains, makes it unpalatable to me.

Jerky can be made with many different cuts and many different types of meat. For example, I enjoy pork jerky, using whole loin, and marinated in a Chili Ginger Honey Sauce. Some like the lean benefit of turkey or chicken. I prefer my jerky a little "gamey" and use mostly beef with little or even no marinade. Elk and Deer, if I can get it, is by far my favourite.

For jerky, it is crucial that you choose the leanest cuts. Fat will become rancid very quickly. With that in mind, any one you choose will work. I use a London Broil or other Top Sirloin and remove all fat prior to marinating. It takes around 3 lbs of meat to make 1 lb of jerky.

Freezing the meat for 30 minutes before slicing will help you cut it thin. Now, slice meat 1/8" to 1/4" thick against the grain. If you are marinating, place in an air proof container and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours. Remember, the point is to dry the meat so, if you marinate, it is important to know that it will increase the drying time.

The oven method is what I use, as I don't own a dehydrator. Setting your oven to its lowest temperature and leaving the door slightly ajar, is a great substitute. Even if you are an apartment dweller, you can make your own jerky. Most ovens have a low temperature of 170 Degrees F. Anything from 150 to 180 is fine. Obviously, the higher the temperature, the less time it takes. There is no set method here. At 170, it takes me 6 to 8 hours depending on the type of meat and the cut. Be sure to turn meat over after about 3 or 4 hours to ensure even drying. Additionally, it is important to be mindful of the second half of the drying time. You don't want to over do it. You'll end up with meat crackers.

You will need 1 or 2 baking sheets, rimmed. I recommend covering with foil. If you have cooling racks, place them on sheets. If not, remember to turn meat over during the drying process, as previously stated.

Some ideas:

Sweet Hot Beef Jerky

3 lbs London Broil, Top sirloin, or cut of choice
1/2 cup Worcestershire Sauce (organic uses far better ingredients. If you're using non-organic, you're getting all the bad stuff in packaged jerky)
1/2 cup Soy Sauce (or Teriyaki, omit brown sugar below)
3 cloves garlic, minced
T. red pepper flakes
T. brown sugar
sea salt to taste
liquid smoke (optional. Personally, I don't like it)

Slice and marinate beef. sprinkle with salt and dry in oven.

Peppered Beef Jerky

sea salt
black or red (or both) pepper

Slice and sprinkle with salt and pepper(s) and dry in oven.

Pig Jerky

3 lbs Whole Pork Loin
1/2 cup cider vinegar
juice of 1 lime
juice of 1 lemon
2 T. honey
1 T. raw sugar
1" by 1" piece ginger, minced
1/2 red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. red pepper flakes
sea salt

Slice pork. Process all other ingredients and marinate.

Lay out the strips and start getting excited.

1 comment:

  1. ohhh great idea! I have some moose meat to use up now I know what I'll do with it-thanks! Laura