What are the secrets behind making great tasting beef jerky?
You know – that succulent, meaty, full flavour jerky that you just want to munch and munch?
The good news is that you can make your very own jerky in your own humble kitchen – no need for a fancy dehydrator. You’ll be blown away – and your mates too – by just how easy it is to make great tasting beef jerky.
STEP 1: THE BEEF
Source the best quality beef possible. For us, this means making sure our beef is grass-fed and finished, and preferably purchased from our local butcher or meat wholesaler. As for the cut, it has to be super lean so our preference is Topside, but Silverside will work just as well.
STEP 2. THE SLICE
Pop the whole cut of beef into the freezer for about 2-3 hours. This will ensure the meat is firm but not fully frozen, which will make it easier to slice thinly. When removed from freezer, slice into thin pieces about 3-5mm. The thinner your slices, the less dehydration time is needed – as well as allow each slice to absorb more flavour from the marinade.
(Personally, when making small batch jerky in our own kitchen at home we skip this step and jump straight into slicing with a very sharp chef’s knife. However, if you’re not confident with your knife skills, it is best to freeze, it does make the slices more consistent).
STEP 3. THE FLAVOUR
It’s time to get creative – Prepare your marinade.
We love to use a combination of dry spices and herbs, pure sauces (Tamari/Soy/Fish), good quality salt and some honey. We avoid using ready made marinade sauces, or any pre-made sauces at all as these are usually loaded with sugars and preservatives.
Make sure you marinade is combined really well, use a whisk if needed.
STEP 4. THE MARINATE
Using a glass container, submerge all sliced beef into the marinade and pop into the fridge for overnight or up to 24 hours.
STEP 5. DRY
a) Dehydrator method – depending on your dehydrator, lay beef slices directly on racks and stack onto the dehydrator. Make sure you rotate these racks during the course of the dehydration process (generally, the ones closer to the heating element will dry faster).
b) Electric oven method – line baking trays with baking paper and then lay out sliced beef flat, making sure no folds or slices are overlapping. With this method, it is important to set the oven to a low temp (about 80-100 degrees Celsius) and leave the oven door cracked open a little to ensure air is circulating and to keep the temp down.
With both methods, you will need to flip slices over a few times to ensure both sides are evenly cooked.
STEP 6. WHEN’S IT READY?
You will know that the jerky is ready when it has turned a dark ‘cooked beef’ colour and is quite stiff when picked up and attempted to bend. If there are any soft bits, leave in the dehydrator/oven for just a little longer.
STEP 7. EAT
Jerky is best shared with friends.
STEP 8. AND REPEAT
Go back to Step 1 and give it a go again – new flavours, new marinade, new jerky experience.
So, now you’re a masterchef, right? Share your jerky creation with us @justjerky and we may collab with you on a special edition Just Jerky flavour.