Gittin’ Jerky Wit It

In food on 09/04/2009 at 9:18 pm

In preparation for our upcoming road/camping trip to Vermont, the other half decided to make some beef jerky. After our car burst into flames last week, we didn’t know if we’d be going anywhere, but the Scottish Spanish-speaking mechanic across the street saved the day and now Phil P is purring like a two-week old kitty again.

We had this block of beef top round from Whole Foods since two months ago, when our interest in making jerky truly was piqued. I get a little perturbed spending $7 for 8 tiny pieces of edible leather, and the bonanza sales at Target come with a hefty dose of MSG, my highway to headaches. We both like savory snacks so we figured it was worth dabbling into.

The butcher at Whole Foods had no clue which cut of meat to recommend (actually he said, “Beef jerky? We sell it right over there.”), so we just got the cheapest nice cut the other half would allow. It ended up being top round. Coincidentally, Go Meat Yourself announced its grand foray into the dehydrating arts. The advice was go with the leanest cut of meat.

When the frozen block of round was retrieved from the dark recesses of our freezer, it wasn’t too worse for wear. The other half used a marinade recipe found in The Joy of Cooking. We forgot about it for a week, and stuck it in the oven today. This is how the meat was trussed after cutting 1/8 – 1/4″ thick pieces, about 6 inches long.

just hanging

stick a fork in it

The other half also stuck a wooden spoon in the door to allow evaporation of moisture. Jeju tip: This project is good for the wintertime as it doubles as a heat source. After about 4 hours in the oven, I sampled a piece, which was fully dehydrated on the outside, but the inside bits stuck together so those parts were merely cooked. Next time, we’ll splay the ends open with a toothpick or lay them out flat.

edible leather

Some hours later (we kind of forgot about it while doing some house work), the finished product: homemade edible leather. The taste was not strong enough, and too greasy due to the wet marinade. I would swap out for a dry rub next time, with minimal soaking in soy sauce. All in all, pretty good deal for no more food-induced migraines.

Whole Foods $5 Beef Top Round 1.5lbs –> ~.75lb jerky = 10 strips. Cut into 1/8 – 1/4″ thick  strips (try to keep the strips an even thickness), 6 inches long.

garlic grated
brown sugar to cover
soy sauce (enough to just soak meat)


garlic grated
spice rub optional (your choice, we like a curry combo, Asian 5 spice powder, or Jerky jerk) with a little vinegar to make a paste

Assemble meat with marinade in Ziploc and let sit in fridge to marry flavors at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 175 degrees F.

Hang on oven rack, stick a toothpick to hold ends away from each other. Place a piece of tinfoil underneath to catch the drippings. (If you are using good meat, this will really only be needed if using a wet marinade).

Dry for 4-5 hrs, or until you get that nice leathery look on the meat.

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