'Jerky' - The Peterson Way

'Jerky' - The Peterson Way
'Jerky' - The Peterson Way

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

1

servings

PREP TIME

--

minutes

TOTAL TIME

--

minutes

SERVINGS

1

servings

Ingredients

  • Many people who hunt regularly and put

  • up meat for later use like to make some

  • jerky. It's an excellent way to preserve

  • meat, it's nutritious, and it tastes good

Directions

Most jerky is made from relatively fresh large chunks of meat that can be cut into strips for drying. Because these strips shrink considerably as the meat dries, it usually takes a good-sized piece of meat to make a piece of jerky that's anything bigger than a "tidbit." One of the problems with making this type of jerky is that it is often tough. Chewy jerky isn't all that bad, especially if you don't have much and you want it to last. Stringy leg muscle jerky is like one of those all day suckers we used to buy as kids to tasted great, lasted forever, but you had to be careful with your front teeth. The method of making jerky described here changes all that. It tastes so good and it's so easy to eat, you can hardly keep enough hidden away to have with an occasional beer. If the kids find the hidden cache, it's gone! But that's okay, because jerky is a whole lot better for them than cookies anyway. The following steps are meant to be guidelines. After you go through the drill once, you will find it easy to innovate to meet your personal tastes. 1. Prepare the Meat for Grinding • This is an excellent way to use up old steaks, stew meat, or roasts that somehow got lost in the bottom of the freezer. Take out and partially thaw about five pounds of meat. Meat is easier to trim when it still has some crystallized ice in it. Trim off all freezer burn material, gristle, fat, sinew, and bone. You want to end up with only clean, lean meat. 2. Weigh the Meat • This is important for adding the right amount of seasoning. Five pounds is a convenient batch to work with and if you screw up you haven't lost a lot of meat. Five pounds divided in half also fits nicely on two standard cookie sheets (12 by 18 inches). 3. Grind the Meat • Cut meat into one-inch cubes and run through the coarse (5/16-inch holes) plate of a grinder. A food processor is a good alternative if you don't have a grinder. 4. Add Spices • Everyone has their own idea of what is "too salty," "too spicy," or "too peppery." The following recipe is a good starter. After the first batch, you will know if it is right for you. If not to change it. For each pound of meat add: 1 teaspoon curing salt = (no iodine and definitely not sea salt) 1 teaspoon liquid smoke 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper • Make sure your hands are clean (including under the fingernails), dump the powder and liquid into the bowl of ground meat, and "goosh" it all together. Kids love this part, because it's just like making mud pies! 5. Regrind the Meat • Run the mixed material through the fine (3/16-inch holes) plate on the grinder. If you leave the mixture coarse, some of the pieces could be a little tough and the meat tends not to stick together as well in a flat sheet as when it is finely ground. However, you don't want to grind it so fine that it looks like "liver paste." 6. Press Meat onto Cookie Sheet • Use nonstick cookie sheets or spray regular cookie sheets with nonstick cooking oil. Put enough meat (approximately 2 1/2 pounds) on the sheet and press out so that you have a layer about 1/4-inch thick (about halfway on the sheet's lip). 7. Partially Dry the Meat • Either place the sheet of meat in an oven turned to very low heat or situate a fan to blow across the meat. We prefer the fan method to start the drying process because there is no chance of "cooking" the meat and essentially turning it into a thin flat meatloaf! In about 2 hours, the meat can be slid off the cookie sheet onto a countertop or table. 8. Cut Meat into Strips • Carefully cut the meat into strips of the desired length. We usually divide the sheet lengthwise and then cut each half into strips about 1 inch wide and 6 inches long. You can use either a sharp knife or scissors. 9. Flavoring and Final Drying • If you want a barbeque flavor or some other special aroma associated with your jerky, now is the time to add these ingredients. Just lightly brush your special sauce or paste-type flavoring on the strips. • Place the strips on food dehydrator trays to finish the drying process. A dehydrator works much better than a fan or oven because you can attain just the right "chewiness" for you. Generally, an overnight stint in a good dehydrator is sufficient. 10. Storage • When the meat is dried to your satisfaction, it is best to store it in the freezer. If you can, vacuum pack the strips in small packages to do it. They will stay fresh a lot longer. Otherwise, put the jerky in sealed plastic bags and freeze. Dried and stored properly, your jerky will keep almost indefinitely.

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