I was about to start with instructions of how to dehydrate some basic items for camp site meals, when I realized that the initiating factor leading to my dehydrating hobby was the wonderful taste and structure of genuine beef jerky. So I decided to begin with my favourite basic beef jerky recipe.
Claiming your beef jerky recipe to be the best in the world is stupid. If you do that, the guy next door will do exactly the same, and since neither one of you can afford to organize a world wide poll to solve who’s jerky really is the best, you will probably end up with a life long argument about nothing.
Therefore, I’m not saying my beef jerky is the best. Yours may well be better, and if the perfect beef jerky must be gently smoked with the cedar strips, carved from the keel of the Mayflower, who am I to argue against that.
So, for those who already know the best beef jerky recipe, quit reading this right now.
However, if you are interested in getting familiar with a damn good , highly modifiable basic beef jerky recipe, keep on reading.
My beef jerky preparation begins with the selection of fresh, good quality, low fat, and tendon free meat, such as sirloin steak or equivalent. It is a good idea to place the meat into the freezer for 3 to 4 hours (that is for about 1 to 1.5 kg (2 to 3 pounds) of meat, larger pieces need a bit longer time). Partially frozen meat is a lot easier to cut to thin slices than a piece of fresh meat. To avoid long chewy stretches of fibers in your beef jerky, the cutting should be done against the direction of the muscle fibers.
When the meat is cut to about 5 mm (1/4 in) slices, it is time to marinate it. My basic marinade contains three liquids; soy sauce, which takes care of required saltiness, red wine, which, in addition to tasting good, adds the total volume of the marinade, and keeps the salt level reasonable, (as information to those of you with kids, or an alcohol problem, the alcohol of the wine evaporates during the dehydrating process), and Worchestershire sauce, which just tastes good. To spice up the marinade, I add some onion powder, dried garlic, black pepper, and some hotter pepper product such as Habanero Tabasco.
The ratios of the liquids can be altered to adjust the saltiness, or they can be replaced with something more suitable to your taste buds. For example, a good friend of mine replaced the soy sauce with a teriyaki sauce and didn’t use red wine at all, and, according to him, his beef jerky is better than mine. 🙂
Similarly, it is advisable to try different spices. If you don’t prefer garlic, don’t use it, and Habanero Tabasco can be replaced with any other non- or low-fat hot stuff, such as dried habanero flakes or something like that, and a dash of liquid smoke, or perhaps a teaspoon or two of honey may do the trick for you.
However, if you have not prepared beef jerky before, I honestly believe that my basic recipe is pretty sure thing to begin with.
Anyway, when the meat and the marinade are ready, place them into ziplock bag(s), marinate over night, dehydrate, according to the instructions (recipe), and become the jerky master.
Feel free to experiment with my recipe, and if, one day, you become the undisputed beef jerky king/queen of the world, a link to the humble beginning to your glory, would be greatly appreciated.