If you want to make your own jerky then there is very little stopping you. Here is the base recipe that I used to get me started. Remember - you'll be concentrating the flavours that you use as you cook the meat so don't go too crazy the first couple of times. The meat will shrink considerably so if you start out with 500g of beef you'll probably end up with between 250g and 300g of jerky.
I smoke mine using charcoal and applewood at a temperature between 75 and 80 degrees Celsius using a Big Green Egg for around 4 hours. You want it to take on the right leathery texture but not reach the point where it is carbonised, a good way to test it is that you want it to bend but not break. I use either silverside or topside British beef. Once it is trimmed of all the fat it is good to slice. Freeze it for a few hours first - it makes the slicing much easier.
The marinade needs a few hours to work its magic on the meat so if you have time then leave the meat soaking for 8 hours or so in the fridge - overnight is ideal. The marinade below gives you a good starting point - should you want to make it hotter - add more chilli/paprika/cayenne. These levels will give you a flavoursome jerky but will not ignite your tonsils. The following marinade should work for 1Kg of beef. Adjust the levels if you think that you want more or less.
- 125ml soy sauce
- 50g brown sugar (I use the densely packed soft brown sugar)
- 1 TBsp black treacle
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
Mix the marinade ingredients together and pour over the sliced beef in a bowl, make sure that all of the beef gets it's share. Cover the bowl and leave to marinade for as long as you can.
When you're ready to smoke it - try to remove as much of the marinade as you can before you put it in your smoker, this will help it to cook more consistently. The smoke flavour will develop more in the first hour or two so if your wood chunks are done after that then don't worry about adding more. You're aiming to keep it around 80 degs Celsius.
As it smokes you'll see the texture and colour change. I usually leave well alone for the first two hours, then turn it and check every 30 mins after that. Some pieces will cook faster than others so as you think it is ready - take it off (after you've tested it of course!).
I use a vacuum packer to preserve it but there's usually a few pieces that get eaten before it makes it that far. It should keep for a few weeks in an airtight container.
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