Beef jerky is a high protein, dried beef snack! Did you ever consider making it yourself? Homemade means there are no unnecessary extra’s like nitrites & MSG. Jerky prices range between $70-$90 a kilo on average, hence why you pay so much for a tiny amount at the supermarket (think: foil-sealed nuts & bar snacks section). At LAX (Los Angeles airport) there is (or used to be?) a whole shop devoted to jerky, mostly in expensive gift packs (think: wooden boxes and triple figures).
Some jerky recipes require you to marinate the meat for days! My recipe lets you eat your jerky same-day (just don’t start making it at night)! Beef jerky preparations will make your house smell like continental smallgoods.. think of a lovely, paprika and garlic dense Hungarian salami. Though honestly, I think the smell of jasmine rice lingers in your house a lot longer than any jerky smells do. In Masterchef style, I’ll give you my top three tips for making your own jerky. 1/ Choose reduced salt, brined corned beef ie. silverside. My local Woolworths didnt’ have any on the day so I bought organic silverside which has less salt than its regular counterpart. 2/ Remember to keep your oven door ajar and have it at 80 degree’s celcius. I used a wooden spoon in the door to keep it open throughout the 3.5 hour drying process. 3/ Don’t skimp on paper towels when drying off your beef strips. Use double layers of the stuff on top and underneath your strips and press down, so you get a ‘soaking-up’ action.
So there you go folks, you don’t need a food dehydrator machine thingy to make your own jerky.. just plan to hang around your house for a few hours. Though it won’t require your attention for most of the time. Experiment with your marinades.. but always use reduced salt soy sauce or tamari (because your beef comes to you in brine). Don’t like garlic? Omit it and think of flavour alternatives like Asian five spice, minced ginger and lime zest. Remember to store prepared jerky with some folded paper towel in zip lock bags or an airtight container. Ok so I seemingly have more than three top tips.
-1 piece of corned beef or silverside in brine about one kilo in size (reduced salt)
-5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon onion powder
-1 tablespoon caster sugar
-1/2 cup rice malt syrup (or maple syrup)
-1/2 cup salt reduced tamari, (wheat free) or soy sauce
-3 tablespoon’s cooking sake (or spirit alcohol, like brandy)
-3 teaspoon’s smoked paprika
-1 teaspoon sweet paprika
-1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
-1 teaspoon ground cumin
-1 tablespoon of mild Indian curry powder (eg. Korma)
-1 roll of highly absorbant kitchen paper towel, you won’t use the whole roll, but if you don’t have any on hand it’ll be difficult to dry the beef strips before putting them on oven trays
-Rinse meat in cold water and pat dry with paper towel
-Trim all fat from meat. If you don’t have a sharp knife, sharp kitchen scissors will do a good job
-Cut beef into steaks (about 2-3cm thick)
-Place steaks in a single layer on plates, cover with plastic food wrap and put into freezer
-Aim to partially-freeze the steaks which will take about 1 to 2 hours depending on your freezer
-While corned beef steaks are in freezer, make your marinade by mixing all ingredients together in a large bowl
-When steaks are partially frozen, take them out one-by-one and slice thinly into strips (about 2 to 3mm thick)
-When all of the beef is sliced (or as much as you’d like to use), place the strips into the marinade and leave for an hour to soak. In colder months, it’s ok to leave out of the fridge if you’re only going to marinate the icy cold beef for an hour. If you choose to marinate the meat for 2 to 3 hours, then cover with plastic food wrap and put in the fridge
-When you’re ready to dry your jerky, work with a handful of strips at a time
-Preheat your oven to 80 degree’s celcius
-Prepare two to three sheets of absorbant paper towel, doubled-over ie. 4 to 6 sheets for a base to lay out some marinated strips, then cover with a double layer of paper towels and press down with your hands. I usually flip the paper towels over and press a second time. You want your marinated beef to be as dry as possible before going into the oven
-I made two trays at at time ie. two oven shelves and I lined my trays with baking paper
-Lay beef strips onto prepared oven trays, making sure the strips aren’t touching each other
-You should have leftover marinated strips which can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days or just make more immediately after your first batch is done
-Place trays in the oven and leave oven door slightly ajar.. I used a wooden spoon to keep it open, this will ensure the beef dries properly
-For the texture that I like which is not quite ‘tree bark’ dry and hard, but still chewy with distinct brittleness, let beef dry in the 80 degree celcius oven for 3.5 hours, turning once or twice during that time
-If you like your beef a little more moist, then remove the beef after 2 hours.. Taste as you go, it’s hard not to!
-When the beef jerky is done, let cool on trays.. Only store once the jerky is completely cooled
-Store with a couple of sheets of clean paper towel in sealed, zip lock bags or a snug airtight container
Trim visible fat off and slice into 2 to 3 cm steaks.
Recipe inspiration from Google and Paul Mercurio’s marvellous book “Cooking with Beer”.