Making beef jerky is an art form, and one of the most critical aspects of this process is slicing the meat. The way you slice it will determine whether your jerky is chewy or tender. In this article, we will explore the different methods of slicing meat to help you achieve the perfect texture and flavor for your homemade beef jerky.
Before we delve into the various slicing techniques, it’s crucial to choose the right cut of meat for your jerky. If you haven’t made your selection yet, take a look at our page on the Best Cuts of Beef for Jerky to guide you. Keep in mind that these instructions apply equally to slicing venison for venison jerky. So, whether you’re using beef or venison, let’s get started!
Video – Slicing Meat
If you’re more of a visual learner, check out our helpful video guide on slicing meat for beef jerky. It will give you a step-by-step visual demonstration of the techniques we’re about to explore.
Trim the Fat
Before you begin slicing, make sure to trim any visible fat from your chosen cut of meat. Fat can cause your jerky to spoil faster, so it’s essential to remove as much as possible beforehand to ensure your jerky stays fresh for longer.
Cut with or Against the Grain?
The way you cut the meat in relation to the grain will significantly impact the texture of your jerky. Slicing with or against the grain determines whether your jerky is chewy and tough or soft and less chewy.
The grain of meat refers to the direction in which the muscle fibers run within the meat. To identify the grain, look for the lines of fibers that run parallel to each other along the cut.
When you slice in the same direction as the fibers, you are slicing with the grain. This results in a more chewy and tougher jerky. Conversely, slicing against the grain produces a softer and less chewy jerky.
To visualize this, imagine the fibers running vertically from bottom to top. Slicing with the grain means cutting along these fibers, while slicing against the grain involves cutting perpendicular to them.
Using a Jerky Slicer
For those who want precise and even-sized jerky strips, a jerky slicer can be a game-changer. The Westin Jerky Slicer, for instance, ensures consistent strip sizes, promoting even drying. With this slicer, you no longer have to worry about some pieces drying more slowly than others due to varying thickness.
To use the Westin Slicer, cut the roast into 1 ¼” slabs and feed them through the machine. A couple of turns of the handle will effortlessly slice the meat accordingly, whether with or against the grain. This way, you can achieve your desired chewiness consistently.
If you want a jerky texture that falls somewhere between chewy and soft, there’s a technique you can try. First, slice the meat with the grain, and then tenderize it with a meat mallet. By beating the meat with the pyramid pointed side of the mallet, you’ll break up the muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender jerky.
This tenderizing method is particularly effective when making The BEST Beef Jerky Recipe. It strikes a perfect balance between toughness and softness, offering a delightfully chewy experience.
Now that you have learned the art of slicing beef jerky, you are equipped with the knowledge to create jerky that suits your preferences. Experiment with different slicing techniques, grain directions, and tenderizing methods to find your perfect balance of chewiness and tenderness.
If you have any questions or need further guidance, please leave a comment below. Happy jerky making!