Do you remember the days of road trips and stopping at small-town smokehouses for that delicious, old-fashioned beef jerky? The kind that evoked memories of childhood adventures and captured the essence of good ol’ Americana? Well, get ready to relive those moments with this recipe for Original Beef Jerky. It’s like a trip down memory lane, taking you back to the small smokehouse joints that made the best jerky.
Slicing the Meat: An Art Form
Choosing the right cut of beef is crucial for creating the perfect beef jerky. For this recipe, I recommend using beef eye of round, but you can find a complete list of the best cuts for beef jerky here. To achieve the desired texture, slice the meat with a very sharp knife, either with or against the grain. Slicing it against the grain will result in a more tender jerky, while slicing with the grain will make it chewier. Aim for slices that are about ¼” thick.
The Marinade: A Flavorful Union
Preparing the marinade is where the magic happens. The ingredients are simple, but the combination is what gives this jerky its traditional taste. You probably have most of these ingredients in your pantry already. Just gather them all and mix them together in a bowl or a ziplock bag. Let the meat marinate in this flavorful concoction in the refrigerator for 6-24 hours, ensuring that every strip is evenly coated. This step guarantees a consistent flavor in every piece of jerky.
Dehydrating: The Secret to Ultimate Flavor
After the marinating process, it’s time to remove any excess marinade by straining the jerky strips in a colander. Pat them dry with paper towels to remove the surface marinade, which will prevent the jerky from being sticky and speed up the drying process. For this recipe, I used a Nesco Snackmaster Dehydrator, which is a reliable and reasonably priced option. Remember to leave enough space between the strips on the dehydrator trays for proper air circulation and even drying.
Testing for Perfection
Drying time varies depending on the method and equipment used. You’ll want to start testing the jerky for doneness around the 3-4 hour mark. Take a piece out of the dehydrator, oven, or smoker and let it cool for 5 minutes. Bend the jerky; it should bend and crack but not break in half. You’ll also notice white fibers in the meat, especially when the jerky is ripped or bent. This batch of jerky took 6 hours to be finished, but remember that drying times may differ based on your specific equipment.
Storing the Jerky: Keeping It Fresh
To prolong the shelf life of your jerky, consider using curing salt and storing it in airtight containers. Curing salt not only enhances the authentic smokehouse flavor but also helps preserve the jerky. However, if you prefer to avoid curing salts, you can omit them from the recipe. Just make sure to heat the meat to 160°F to prevent any bacterial issues. For more information on storing beef jerky and extending its shelf life, check out this resource.
Old Pro Tips: Wisdom from the Experts
Here are some valuable tips to enhance your jerky-making skills:
- Leaving out the curing salt will alter the look and flavor of the jerky.
- Use liquid smoke that does not contain filler ingredients, such as Wright’s Liquid Smoke.
- Test the doneness of the jerky after it has cooled for 5 minutes, not while it’s still warm.
- Store your jerky in ziplock bags or vacuum-sealed packages for longer shelf life. Refer to this page for more information on proper storage techniques.
Now that you have the secrets of creating authentic beef jerky, it’s time to fire up your smoker, oven, or dehydrator and embark on a flavorful journey. Enjoy the rich, smoky taste of this Original Beef Jerky, reminiscent of those small-town smokehouses from your fondest childhood memories. Happy snacking!