Secret Family Recipe Beef Jerky

>> Wednesday, February 3, 2010

OK, OK, this beef jerky isn't actually secret (it certainly isn't now that I am posting it on the internet!) but it is my family recipe. My mom and dad make this jerky a few times a year and it is the best I've ever had. Jerky is one of those things you can adjust to your taste by adding any spices you like but I wanted to make this recipe by the book on my first attempt to see if it was as good as my dad used to make. It is. It may be even better because I cut my meat against the grain for a more tender jerky versus my dad's method of cutting with the grain for chewier jerky, but that might just fall into the personal preference category.
This recipe takes a long time to make; parts of it are labor intensive and it's messy. Even so, if you like jerky or even if you just like meat, you might want to give this a try. You end up with a LOT of jerky when you're done and it could last you for months - that is, unless you are me, my sous chef and our friends - then you will be lucky to stretch it out for two weeks! It just goes to show how tasty this is. It's a great, protein-rich snack that is totally portable. Great for road trips, camping or noshing on in front of Man vs Food. It's smoky, a little sweet, salty, chewy and crunchy. Everything a good hunk of dried out beef ought to be. Thanks to my mom and dad for the recipe and helpful tips!
- 2-4 lbs lean beef (flank steak, brisket, round steak) -I used a round roast, hence all the cutting I had to do. Steaks make it easier but either will work. Also, you don't need choice meat, this was just on sale, you can use any grade you like.
- 1/3 cup liquid smoke
- 1 1/2 tsp meat tenderizer (msg)
- 1 tsp seasoned salt
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/3 cup gluten free tamari (or soy sauce for you wheat eaters)
- 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce (most made in the US are gluten free but check your labels)
- 1/4- 1/3 cup brown sugar
Trim any thick fat or silvery membrane from the outside of your meat.
 If you are using a roast like I did, cut the roast into steaks.
Mine were a bit thin, I would aim for 1" - 11/4" thick steaks.
That marbling made for some mighty fine jerky.
Cut the steaks into thin strips, with the grain for chewy jerky, against the grain for tender jerky.
Aim for about 1/4 inch thick, not much thicker, but if they get too thin they may break apart. They'll still taste good though, I promise.
Mix your marinade ingredients in a bowl until the sugar and salt are mostly dissolved.
Place meat in a plastic zipper bag and pour in the marinade. Marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
Drain and dry meat. (I missed this step and ended up with meat juices all over my kitchen. Woops.)
Line the bottom of the oven with foil to catch drippings. This is very important. Your oven will probably never be clean again if you forget to do this!
Arrange the meat strips DIRECTLY ON the oven rack, evenly spaced.
Cook in a 150 degree oven 5 - 7 hours, 170 degrees for 5 hours if oven cannot do 150 (My oven only goes as low as 170.)
 Leave the oven door ajar for the entire cooking process. Test jerky after 5 hours to determine if you want to cook it longer for a crispier texture.
When it's done to your taste, turn the oven off and let it cool then just pop off your jerky, take out the foil and rinse off your oven racks. Snack away!


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