Beef jerky is awesome.
So awesome, in fact, that I could eat pounds of it at a time. I would happily spend all day walking around with a chunk of beef in my mouth.
Beef jerky from the store- the kind in thse nifty zippered pouches with a pack of silica gel or whatever at the bottom- is full of preservatives and evil carbs and is expensive as hell. We found our local butcher shop does amazing things with beef jerky, but it, too, is expensive.
So…screw it, I'll make my own.
I tried this recipe from NeoHomesteading. She mentioned using chuck roast in her first attempts. PERFECT! I had a roast in the freezer from my last trip to Sam's Club.
I sliced that beef as thin as I could while it was still partially frozen, and mixed up an amazing-smelling elixir of fish sauce, cracked black pepper, meat tenderizer and garlic, then portioned it out into 4 separate Ziploc bags. I figured I would try 4 different jerky variations.
You know, because trying it all one way would be too easy.
One bag I left as is. One got the added treatment of cajun seasoning, the third had some (very not-primal/paleo) bbq sauce added, and the fourth went Asian with a mix of ginger, a bit of allspice, and sirhacha.
I put the meat in the bags, squished it all around to coat the pieces, and sealed them up for an overnight marinade.
The next day I laid all the pieces of meat carefully on a rack on my cookie pans, discovering, in the process, that squishing the meat around was NOT a good idea, as the marinade and met tenderizer rendered the meat so delicate that trying to unfurl it to lay it out was a process.
The thicker pieces were easier to handle, overall, but they require a longer marinating and longer drying time!
I did the jerky in batches, since only two pans would fit in my oven at a time- the meat strips in the second bags, which I pulled out of the fridge about an hour ahead of time, were much easier to unroll at room temperature, although still delicate.
After just a short time my house smelled so good I was checking the oven a couple times an hour. And yeah, okay, I snitched some bites.
Even when it wasn't fully cooked, much less dried out.
I pulled off the particularly thin pieces as they finished, and for the pieces with a particular high fat content/marbling, had to pat the pieces dry on both sides on paper towels.
The Cajun pieces I sprinkled with a bit more seasoning, for a little added kick.
The end result was some seriously delicious beef jerky that no one could keep their hands off of. The Asian and BBQ were chalked up to failures (albeit still tasty ones). The regular and Cajun were huge successes, and ALL the beef jerky was gone in less than 2 days.
I advise you, strongly urge you, in fact, to show restraint when sampling your beef jerky.
The day after massive jerky indulgence is, shall we say, not pretty.
To say the least.
Stomach issues aside, the results were so well-received that I'm making more jerky today, using the ends of a beef roast bought from Sam's Club, trimming all the visible fat and silverskin off, of course.
Since we were too busy shoving jerky in our faces to take pics of the first batch, hopefully pics to come of this batch…if we manage to show a modicum of restraint.