Sorry, no pics on this as of yet, I'll try soon though! Should be making another batch in the near future, even if just a small one.
We all know how great jerked meat is (yea yea...), but instead of paying a lot of money for it, you can cheaply jerk your own meat (yea yea....).
I usually get a top round (or a top shoulder?), the leanest cut, 25lbs costs me a little under 200 bucks for buffalo, about 175 for beef, depending on how good my negotiating skills are and who I get it from.
I prefer my jerky to be sliced WAY thicker than the paper thin, opaque pieces that you can purchase. I usually get my butcher friend to slice the whole cut into cuts that closely resemble a london broil. About an inch thick is just right. I then take a sharp knife and trim off all of the fat. Meat, when dried, is preserved. Fat, when dehydrated, will still turn rancid. Get as much of the fat as you can off. I usually turn this into suet cakes for the bird feeders. Then, start slicing with the grain, slices about 1cm wide.
After you've gotten the meat sliced, put it in ice cold water for about fifteen minutes to wash off some of the blood, then pack it in salt for about an hour. The salt pulls out a good amount of the moisture and allows more of your marinade to settle into the meat. It also allows the meat to become perfectly dry whether you are using an oven or a meat smoker.
While your meat is soaking, prepare the marinade. Everyone has their own recipes, most people who love jerking their own meat like to try it a number of ways before they developed a favorite, or a few favorite, ways to do it. I've got a few recipes that I use; teriyaki, habenero citrus, tequila lime and my favorite, that doesnt' really have a name, that I'll describe below.
It's my standard flavoring, tastes GREAT, really adds a pepper-ness and a smoked flavor to the meat. If you are using the oven, you might want to add some more liquid smoke and a little bit more marinade time. Here it is;
1 bottle cabernet sauvignon or merlot - I prefer a spicier, peppery red wine for this
1 bottle liquid smoke - I prefer hickory, mesquite is just fine
.5 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 cups Franks Red Hot Sauce - Just enough for some kick, not too hot
1 cup red wine vinegar - Everything else that I've mentioned, except for the wine, has a lot of vinegar, but I think that it really helps break down the meat and lets the flavor get absorbed better
3 cups apple cider
1 cup vodka - Cheap stuff works great, just a bit more alcohol to break the meat down some and let the flavors really penetrate.
Thats it for the liquids, I don't really measure the powdered stuff out, so just do what tastes good...
Freshly ground black peppercorn
Garlic powder (or fresh garlic, if it's in season)
Nutmeg (just a little bit!)
Cinnamon (again, just a touch!) I think that the nutmeg and cinnamon gives it a "jamaican jerk" flavor
I mix all of this together in a sauce pan and heat it until it begins to steam. After about five minutes of steaming while stirring, to dissolve everything and extract the flavored oils from the powders, I put it in a glass jar that I submerge in ice water. When it's cool, I remove the glass jar from the ice bath.
*NOTE* This is for smaller batches than my usual 25lb batches. Scale up or down. This is about right for 3-4 London Broils, off the shelf.
I like to use vacuum seal bags for marinading. I take the meat from the kosher salt, very gently rinse the salt off with a bit of cold water (not too much, the whole point was to begin the meat dessication), then put the meat into the vacuum seal bag. After all of the meat is in the bag, I fill with the cooled marinade and vacuum seal the bag. When I'm done with all of the bags, I toss them in the fridge, labelling the date on them.
Marinading takes about 2 days. Any longer than that and I don't think it's going to make a difference, probably start really breaking the meat down as well.
If you've got a meat smoker, you are in luck! Nothing really tops off your jerky like having it slow dried over real smoke from some apple-wood chips soaked in honey-water! (Honey dissolved in hot water, soaked in the chips for 2-4 hours, then poured off) Mesquite works nice too. If you haven't got one, you can use your oven.
For both techniques, you'll need the meat hanging from racks. Your oven has racks and the smoker has racks, so it's the same basic process. I use toothpicks usually, through the thinner part of the meat (rather than the width). Have some olive oil on hand so that you can rub it onto the toothpick, allowing it to insert and withdraw easier. It's a tedious process, especially with LOTS of meat, but it's worth it.
After you've got your meat hung from your racks, dry it! I set my oven for about 200 degrees, then adjust the door so that it stays at about 160 degrees. Smoker I just set for 160-180 and allow it to work its magic. In the oven, it usually takes about 6-8 hours. Slower is better..... fast, hot methods aren't drying, they are cooking. You dont' want it cooked, you want the meat totally dessicated. The best way to tell that it's done is when it cracks as you bend it. It won't break like a dry twig, but thats because of the thickness, not an indication of it not being totally dry. When it cracks and the individual muscle fibers break apart as you bend it, you've got it right.
I've never had a batch last me long enough to see how it spoils, I usually get about 9 lbs out of a 25lb cut, so about a 1:3 ratio. Put it in 2 oz bags and vacuum seal. Label it and toss it in the freezer.
High protein, inexpensive, a great way to carry delicious meat in your BOB without having to purchase it pre-packed (like tuna or chicken), and it's flavored how you like it.
Like I said, I'm planning on making a good pictoral of this in the near future, I'll make sure I update it here!...
Started a batch last night. The local grocer had London broil, buy one get one free, so I bought four. Three for the jerky, one for a roast. Total weight was just a bit under six pounds.
This is my setup right before cutting the meat. My SOG NorthWest Ranger, a bucket filled with ice cold water, a wooden cutting board and the meat.
I trimmed off all of the fat that I could, plus all of the silver skin. Then, slicing at an angle against the grain, I made the cuts and submerged them in the ice bath.
All done! Notice how the meat has lost some of it's reddish color and the water, as you pour it out, will appear slightly bloody. This is the exact effect that we want, the excess blood has been removed from the meat.
Salt in a container. I use coarse ground sea salt, any NaCl will be fine though. Basically I dredge the piece in the salt so that it's coated, brush off the excess and place towards the rear of the tray, away from the dredging salt.
The seasonings! I didn't have any red wine that I wanted to contribute to this batch so I improvised a bit. Basically, everything you see there plus some cardamom, terragon, a half a drop of Daves Ultimate Insanity sauce, some sliced garlic, some onion powder and a dash of cayenne powder. I threw it all into a sauce pan, heated until it steamed, lowered the heat and stirred for about 15 more minutes. Then I poured the marinade into 2 separate Mason jars which I submerged in an ice bath to cool.
Once the ice bath has absorbed the heat from the marinade, I pour it into another container. The salt that the meat has been packed in has turned reddish and the meat has a drier, rougher texture to it. I rinse the individual slices off in ice cold water to remove the salt, then place them in another flat plastic dish. After I've rinsed all of the pieces, I pour the marinade in.
** I did all of this the evening of November the 7th. I'm planning on letting it marinade for 2 days, stirring the marinade every 12 hours or so. I took a picture of it this morning as I stirred it but I'm not able to post it yet. Will do in the future.
Also, a tip. I always have triscuits on hand to test my marinades with. A quick dip into the marinade will give you an idea of how the final product will turn out. I think that Triscuits absorb enough of the material in it's grainy texture to really get a good sample and their flavor is neutral so it doesn't color the results.
Also, now that I think about it, I added a pint of regular V8 juice to the mixture as the base, then the rest of the stuff.
I'm also posting all future photos at 640x480 to avoid scrolling. Sorry about that.
** UPDATE ***
OK, the pictures of the meat after about 12 hours in the marinade.
Look at the opened grain on that piece. All of that succulent marinade, filling in the spaces. Yum