Beef jerky isn’t very photogenic is it?
It is, however, one of my favorite snacks, especially since going Paleo/Primal. It’s also ridiculously expensive to buy ready-made beef jerky of any decent quality, and even the natural varieties are full of sugar. But did you know how easy it is to make your own? It’s basically just marinated dried beef.
As with many things I make, there’s not really a recipe here, more of a process to follow and use your own judgement with.
I usually start with about 2 lbs. of grass-fed london broil from our local natural foods store. London broil is a great cut for jerky because it has very little fat. Jerky is one preserved meat preparation that is better without fat. The amount in the two quart size mason jars above is the result of about 1.8 lbs this time.
Start by rinsing and draining the beef, and then hand cut it in quite thin slices.
Get a medium bowl and mix up some marinade. I usually start with about 1/2 cup of wheat-free tamari, and then add garlic, herbs, sometimes a little honey, depending on whether I’m eating sugar. Be sure to include some black pepper or red pepper flakes. Once the marinade is all mixed up, dump the raw pieces in and toss to coat. Store in the fridge to marinate for 4-6 hours. Alternatively, you can marinate in a gallon-size ziploc bag for better marinade contact.
After it’s marinated, drain the meat. You can experiment with rinsing it or not, I’ve found I like a quick rinse to pull of some of the bigger herb chunks, but not rinsed clean. Now, if you have a dehydrator, it’s really simple to just lay the pieces out and put it on the meat setting for 10-12 hours. If you don’t have a dehydrator, don’t fret, you can also do this in a low oven with quite the same results. Just set your oven as low as it will go and be sure to put the beef on a rack on a cookie sheet. If it’s directly on the cookie sheet you will get a most unpleasant raw meat result, trust me I know.
Here’s what about 1.8 lbs. of london broil looks like ready to go into the dehydrator.
When you think it’s getting done, just try it. If it’s a little soft, I recommend drying it a little further. The soft “chunk-style” jerky product you can get at the store is filled with weird softeners and preservatives. I’ve had soft jerky start to mold after about a week, so I keep going until mine is somewhat crisp now.
And voila, about $50 worth of grass-fed beef jerky, flavored to your tastes, in under an hour of work and less than $20 of beef.
Anyone else make beef jerky? I’d love to know what your favorite flavors are.