As Erika will tell you, so many sweet things are given out this time of year. Seems that she and I think a lot alike as we both wanted to write about our beef jerky recipes! (We do share a mutual love of bacon, so really this is no surprise.)
I really do think jerky is the perfect gift. Of course, I also think jerky is the perfect food so when I make it, I have a hard time giving it away. Heck, beef jerky and beer was my first meal in my first apartment, so I’m a little sentimental about it. It’s portable protein. It’s fantastic for a snack while out on the trail, hiking or cross country skiing. I have taken to carrying some with me for after my boxing classes when I’m so hungry I could gnaw off my own arm. Jerky is the thing to give that fitness fan who will eschew your tray of cookies because they aren’t low carb.
As Erika stated, an eye round roast is a nice choice for jerky. Ideally, you want a lean muscle because fat will go rancid. Cuts that are marbled with fat will be challenging so grab a whole muscle roast with the fat all on the outside. I like to cut my own beef and if you choose this route, here are a few tips.
- Sharpen your knife. I know it sounds silly to have to say that, but trimming meat is precision work and you are going to want to trim the fat but leave as much of the meat as possible. If you don’t have a sharpening stone, at least use your steel to hone your edge.
- Trim the fat from the roast while it’s right out of the fridge, then stick that sucker in the freezer for about 30 minutes to an hour. This will make slicing much, much easier.
- You can cut against the grain for a jerky that pulls apart, or you can cut with the grain for a jerky with more “tooth”. Some of us like to rip into a hunk of meat like an animal, so know your audience when you make a decision. Against the grain will give you “rounds”. With the grain will give you strips. I usually end up with a little of both as I get down to the end of the roast
- The thicker you cut your meat, the longer it will take to dry. I like to cut mine anywhere between 1/8th to 1/4 inch thick. Don’t go any thicker or you are risking food spoilage. The brine will help avoid that but if your dehydrator doesn’t have a variable temperature setting, cut closer to that 1/8th.
Making the brine is super easy. Combine the following:
- 1/4 cup canning salt (can use Kosher but use a bit less)
- 2 cups apple cider
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 jalapenos, chopped with seeds
- 3-4 sage leaves minced.(if you only have dry sage, use about a half a teaspoon)
- Pour the brine into a zip top bag, add the beef slices and smoosh it around a bit. Store in the fridge over night.
- The next day, drain the meat in a colander set over a bowl to catch the brine. Wipe the chunks off the meat slices and then dip them quickly into the brine in the bowl. I honestly like to leave a few chunks here and there, but I like to eat a mouthful of jalapeno or sage. Not everyone does. Use your judgement.
- Arrange the slices in a dehydrator in a single layer. Dry until.. well.. dry. You want the moisture out, but you want it to be still pliable.
But wait! there’s MORE!
I gave this recipe to a twitter peep to taste test. Angelos not only made jerky, but he was inspired to brine a London Broil in it. He said it was fantastic! I tried it too, and I have to agree! So, if you aren’t’ really into making jerky, and you can give a gift that can be refrigerated shortly after gifting, bottle this up in a pretty jar as a Beef Brine and call it a day.