We’re big fans of beef jerky in our house. The biggest problem we have is that it’s quite expensive to buy and the readily available stuff isn’t the greatest quality or flavour. I’ve wanted to make some at home for the longest time but have never gotten around to it. Until now.
I scoured the internet and found some recipes. The first one I found was by The Healthy Foodie. It looked amazing but there are so many ingredients and I really didn’t want to go and buy liquid smoke. The other recipe I found was on allrecipes.com. It was much more compact so I decided to use that as a base. I was going to use brisket as suggested by The Healthy Foodie rather than top round in the other recipe. I like brisket a lot; it’s so versatile and not too expensive either. As it comes from the chest of the cow it is a hard working muscle so takes well to long slow cooking.
I unpacked my brisket and trimmed off as much of the fat and sinew as I could. I saved the trimmings for a beef broth my wife plans to make. It’s always good to save bones and other trimmings for stock, they really help add to the flavour. After I’d trimmed the brisket I placed it into the freezer for an hour. This helps to firm up the meat which make it easier to slice nice and thin.
Before taking the brisket out of the freezer I prepared the marinade.
I took the allrecipes.com recipe but reduced the amount of soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce by a third. In fact, I didn’t even use Worcestershire sauce, I used Henderson’s Relish which I prefer. Henderson’s Relish, or Hendo’s as its know, is similar to Worcestershire sauce but it is vegetarian (In fact it’s Vegetarian Society Approved) and doesn’t taste quite as salty.
I ended up using 1/2 cup of Hendo’s, 1/2 cup of light soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of clear honey, 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon each of dried chilli flakes, onion granules and garlic granules. I mixed all of these together in a bowl and set it to one side.
I was now ready to start slicing the brisket. It was quite a large piece, around 2kg before I trimmed it so I cut it in half before slicing. We like to be able to eat our jerky easily so I sliced across the grain of the meat. If you prefer a chewier jerky then you can cut with the grain to give you long strands of meat. I sliced the meat about as thin as I could manage with a good sharp knife. As you can see I ended up with a rather large pile of brisket slices.
Next, I mixed the meat slices and the marinade together and placed them into a tub and then into the fridge. I mixed it up again before I went to bed and left it in the fridge overnight. I think it marinated for around 20 hours in total.
It smelled amazing as I was removing it from the tub. I put as much as I could onto racked trays without overfilling them. I wanted to make sure that air could flow around the pieces and dry them.
The jerky pieces were in the oven for 3 hours at around 60 Celsius before I turned them over and left them for another 3 hours. At the end of the next 3 hours I found that a lot of the jerky still wasn’t dry enough so I just left it in the oven, checking it regularly until it was. I think the length of time the jerky spends in the oven is very dependant on how thick the cut is and how predictable your oven’s performance is.
In the end I had so much brisket that I had to do two batches of jerky. I’m really happy with the outcome – the jerky was tasty, dry and chewy enough for us. It’s also a product that you can change to your tastes. You can pretty much add whatever spices and flavourings you want to it! Additionally, if you have a good dehydrater, you don’t even have to use your oven. Next time we’re trying teriyaki flavoured jerky, as requested by my wife.
Jerky is a high protein, low fat, low carbohydrates snack that anyone can make. All it takes is patience and a big chunk of meat. It doesn’t even need to be beef. You can even do it with chicken, turkey or pork! Enjoy!