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Jerky Pleasing All Parties

12.05.10

Jerky has become a repertoire item around our home – something that reappears over, and over, and over – like bacon. At risk of offending all parties, jerky pleases food snobs, picky eaters, and red necks equally – and I actually don’t quite understand why.  Not many foods can transcend those gaping holes in preference, so why does dried raw meat turn people on? How does my daughter spit roast chicken on her plate, yet pound back the uncooked, dried game meat that she’d otherwise never touch? I think it’s largely a texture preference that’s plugged into our DNA, evolution telling us that this is safer to eat. I use this recipe still. Were I to use the exact same ingredients and stir fry the meat, the picky folk, game haters, food snobs, red necks, and children wouldn’t eat it. But dry it, and shabam.

In all honesty, although I enjoy jerky – especially as a portable snack food, I’m not one to get too overly excited about it. I get excited about dry cured sausages, but not this. But so long as others do, and it’s an effective way to get people excited about eating game meats, I’ll keep making it, and they’ll keep eating it as fast as I can make it. One of the great things about game – jerky is obscenely expensive to purchase retail, in the neighborhood of $50-60/kg. When a game animal like this costs you zero, it makes for some pretty fantastic value add. A boon for this cheapass.

16 Responses

  1. Mel says:

    I have no good explanation as to why jerky is loved by so many; the evolutionary hard-wiring theory is as good as any I’ve heard.

    It was seriously tasty jerky, though. Miles ahead of anything I’ve ever paid for. Fantastic job.

  2. Mel – glad you tried it and approve. Just sliced up another chunk of elk for another batch.

  3. jeff says:

    hey your jerky recipe didnt seem to post. Id love to try it. perhaps could you post it again, or email it to me?

    this would be my first foray into the world of drying/curing my own meat but i am a serious carnivore and hate paying out the nose for jerky. most of the commercially available stuff is pretty shitty anyway.

    i should have a line on some game meat and this would be the perfect avenue for me to use it.

    thanks

    jeff

  4. Jeff – just checked out the link to the recipe and it appears to be working. Good luck giving it a go!

  5. jeff says:

    good deal. got the recipe to work. didnt work through explorer but does with firefox.

    what is the best method to dry in your opinion? bbq

  6. jeff says:

    whoops, hit enter to fast.

    so anyhoo……. bbq or oven.. I have a napoleon bbq with a small smoker box.
    what do you suggest is easier for a first timer and also, what cut of meat would be the best as well.

    any further information would be much appreciated.

    thanks very much for the inspiration!!!

  7. Jeff – hm, that kinda sucks that it’s not cross-browser-compatible. Sorry about that.

    Recommendation: hit it with smoke for a half hour to hour if you can. Even if just a touch for flavor. Then dry on racks in your oven on the lowest setting with the door slightly ajar to allow humidity to escape. With game, cut doesn’t matter. I use large muscles [round mostly] for ease. If beef, eye of round, or other cut that’s uniform in size and lean. Fat is bad for jerky. Dry it until you can tear it into strands [cutting it with the grain is better if you ask me], and don’t expect each piece to be ready at the same time. It’s highly variable, so you end up pulling the dry pieces, and leaving the rest, repeat, until the last pieces are done. Let cool on the counter, then stuff in a jar for storage [ripping as necessary].

    Let me know if you need anything else on your jerky-venture.

  8. jeff says:

    so i have the meat marinating away and ready to dry tonight. I was wondering how you went about smoking your jerky? Your photo appears to have fire below it and Im thinking that wouldnt all that heat cook the meat?

    whats the trick to smoke with out cooking if you dont have a smoker? and hickory chips???

  9. Jeff – yep, I have a fire, and I wait until it’s cool enough to smoke without cooking the meat. Takes practice, and is never the same twice, which makes it fun! Trick would be having one or two good coals, and a stick, and every once in a while poking the stick back in the heat of the coal to continue it smoking away.

    I use apple prunings from my apple tree for smoke.

  10. Groan, your post about this last year had me sorting my freezer with a new eye. Now I can’t keep up, by the time I get one batch done, and another started, the first is gone.

    Thanks again for sharing this recipe!

  11. Karlynn says:

    Ah, the chicken-spitter-outters, I have one of those. He seems to gravitate towards the highly salted, processed foods as well. Another reason perhaps is that studies have shown we ARE biologically hardwired for three tastes: salt, sweet and fat, the three things that used to be scarce.Jerky is salty and a bit sweet, two out of three! I personally loooove it.

  12. Karlynn says:

    Right, so now you know what you can bring! Jerky! Let’s see if my picky chicken hater likes uncooked dried meat.

  13. T@TC – I know. I just am finishing a batch, and there’s a meager two pieces from the last batch already, and I made it a few days ago. Have to take another cow elk roast out. I’m not complaining.

    Karlynn – Agreed. I forgive children for craving sugar’s fast calories. I do look forward to the day that they’ll eat a roast dinner with us though. And yes, perfect, I will bring you some elk jerky!

  14. jeff says:

    Bad news……. i started my batch way to late at night (9:30pm) not fully realizing it takes 8 hours in the oven.I did manage to wake up at 2 and flip and check but missed my 4 30 finish and ended up with 3 lbs of very very dry jerky at 7 am.
    whoops…

    I have definitly learned my lesson for next time. Now ill start at 9 am instead and keep a better eye on it.

    It did taste promising though, if you could get through all the chewing that is…….
    live and learn

  15. Kevin says:

    Sorry to hear that Jeff. Yeah, they take some babysitting, so a morning start is certainly a good idea!

  16. Chad says:

    I make a lot of jerky and I change up the recipe every time. It’s never bad. I’ve never experimented with smoking it though, I’m mostly too lazy. I always do it in the oven with a rag stuff in the door and the heat set at about 190F. It takes only about two hours to get it to how everyone I know likes it. I usually split up my batches into two; one is for normal people and the other is for people who enjoy burning their guts out.

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