Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jerky! Salty, Smoky, Delicious Homemade Jerky

My daughter was lucky enough to kill her first deer on October 1st.  The lucky girl and her not-so-lucky prey:

On Sunday afternoon we butchered.  We have lots of ground Elk from last fall in the freezer, so we didn't want any more ground venison.  We cut steaks where appropriate (hello, back strap!) and cut the rest into thin strips for jerky.  What little we had left that wasn't fit for jerky we cut into small pieces and canned.

None of us had ever made jerky before.  My father-in-law has a propane smoker, and I've got Google.  I searched for jerky recipes and found lots of information.  After comparing a few recipes and processes, we decided on the following:

2/3 C Soy Sauce
2/3 C Worcestershire Sauce
Garlic Powder
Crushed Red Pepper

This was supposed to be enough for three pounds of raw meat.  I had four...

I poured the 2/3 C Soy Sauce over the meat, then emptied the Worcestershire bottle into the 1/3 C measure.  Out of Worcestershire, I substituted 1/3 C Bragg's Liquid Amino and added 1/3 C Black Vinegar (one of those stir fry secret ingredients - highly recommended).  I did not measure the Garlic Powder or Crushed Red Pepper, but I'd estimate 3 T Garlic Powder and 2 T Crushed Red Pepper.

i mixed it  up well and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight, mixing before bed and first thing in the morning.

The next day, we fired up the smoker.  We smoked at 150 degrees for about three hours with some Mesquite chips.  After the three hours were up, the flavor was excellent but the texture not quite as dry as we wanted.  We raised the heat to about 170 and let the jerky dry for another two hours or so.

The end product was fantastic, if a little spicy.  If you remove any red pepper seeds from the jerky, the spice level is nearly perfect.  If you want a little more heat, leave that red pepper in place.

I did not have high hopes for this project, and didn't take pictures or plan to use this recipe here.  I will take a picture of the finished product and add it to this post later tonight or tomorrow.

If you're going to try making jerky at home and don't have a young deer to process, I think I'd recommend using an eye of round roast, cut with the grain into thin strips (1/4" or thinner).

Keep in mind that you lose A LOT of weight with drying.  Our four pounds of raw meat probably lost 50% or more of the total weight by the time it was done.  Jerky is expensive for a reason!

If you have a smoker, I encourage you to try making some of your own jerky.