I've never been a fan of beef jerky but one day my son's girlfriend brought some over, here dad had a bunch and shared a little with us. I tried it and was like, woah, this is actually really good. Because jerky is so damn expensive and having recently bought a propane smoker I realized that it would be really cool to come up with a way to make this myself. I did a bunch of research and found a few recipes that I thought sounded good.
I headed to the local butcher shop (my first as an adult to be honest) and inquired with them on what I should use for a cut of beef. They suggested some of the more expensive cuts but I settled on three pounds of eye of the round. You can use just about any cut really, the golden rule is that the leaner the better. The reason for this is that fat doesn't dry out and will go rancid faster then properly dried meat.
So my very first attempt did not go well, the marinade was not that good, the smoker was too hot and burnt most of the beef. There were a few decent pieces but overall the first batch was really bad. I didn't let the deter me though. My second batch came out quite good, so good in fact that the three pounds I made didn't last the weekend.
My third attempt though was where it was at, at least so far (it's also the last batch I've made). I tweaked my recipe even more this time. I also purchased a dehydrator after my birthday to help aid in the process of drying the meat out.
So I won't bore you with my first two recipes, but here is the one that was really popular so far:
- 1 cup apple cider
- 2/3 cup soy
- 1/3 cup terriyaki
- 1/3 cup worcestershire
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon meat tenderizer
So my process hasn't really changed all that much, except now it's a lot easier to dry out the meat with the dehydrator. I ask the butcher to slice up the beef for jerky, I then take it and clean up these cuts to remove as much of the fat as I can. I put the meat in a gallon sized sealable bag and cover with the marinade. I make sure the meat gets completely covered and put the bag in the refrigerator. I leave the meat in the marinade for at least a full day, periodically shaking it up to keep the meat coated properly.
Once ready to smoke I remove the meat from the bag, rinse the meat and then dry it with paper towels. I lay it out on my jerky racks as best as I can. With the smoker set to 225 degrees. I prefer hickory wood for smoking but have tried apple wood which is also quite good. I smoke the meat for two hours, checking after one hour to see how the meat looks.
After two hours I take the meat and move it to the dehydrator where it stays for as many hours as necessary to dry out the meat fully. As pieces get dried out I remove them and leave them on a rack open to the air.
I'm due to make some jerky, it's been far too long. I'm thinking that this time I need to tweak the recipe again. I'm leaning towards throwing a cup of bourbon into the marinade to add some great flavor.
This next attempt will be the first time I'm smoking jerky on my Primo and over lump charcoal. I'm hoping that this will allow me to smoke at a lower temp, like 200 or maybe even at 150. I'm also hoping the lump charcoal imparts some great flavor. I've never smoked anything with mesquite, hear that it's quite pungent but I think maybe trying this with some jerky might be in order in the near future.
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