How to make the Best Beef Jerky

005Start with a large cut of beef.  I used a Bottom Round Roast of about 4 pounds.  Cut in half along the grain, if necessary, to facilitate slicing later.  Put meat in freezer for 30-45 minutes, until firm but NOT frozen.  Slice the meat ACROSS the grain into slices about 3/8″ thick.  A meat slicer is great, if you have one.  Now, cut each slice into 1″ wide strips and put in marinade.  Stir meat into marinade well, and refrigerate overnight.

Here’s a safety note from our friends at the USDA:
Illnesses due to Salmonella and E. coli from homemade jerky raise questions about the safety of traditional drying methods for making beef and venison jerky. The USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline’s current recommendation for making jerky safely is to heat meat to 160 °F and poultry to 165 °F before the dehydrating process. This step assures that any bacteria present will be destroyed by wet heat. But most dehydrator instructions do not include this step, and a dehydrator may not reach temperatures high enough to heat meat to 160 °F.

After heating, maintain a constant dehydrator temperature of 130 to 140 °F during the drying process is important because the process must be fast enough to dry food before it spoils; and it must remove enough water that microorganisms are unable to grow.

The “heating step” can be accomplished by either simmering the meat in the marinade just before the drying step OR once the meat is in the dryer/oven, raise the heat to 165 degrees and then lower to your drying temperature.  With that in mind, either use the oven or your dehydrator—if it can meet the heating guideline.  Following the manufacturer’s directions for drying meat in your dehydrator.  Place the meat strips in the dehydrator with an air space of about 1/4” between each piece.  Turn on the dehydrator and allow meat to dry, testing occasionally.
Your oven on the lowest setting with the door propped open slightly might be a viable alternative.  Use some wire racks to hold the meat and spread out on the racks.    You might consider rearranging the racks if some are drying faster than others.

Properly dried meat should break apart a small bit when bent, but not to the point of snapping.

Teriyaki Sauce
16 oz soy sauce
1/4 cup dark sesame oil
1/4 cup sweet rice wine
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup ginger, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup garlic, peeled and sliced
16 scallions, tops and bottoms removed
Combine first 6 ingredients in a saucepan on medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.  Pour 1 cup into blender and blend in ginger until fine.  Pour contents into another pan and repeat process with garlic and then scallions.  Bring to a boil briefly and then simmer for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool and strain into marinating bowl through wire mesh colander or strainer.  Refrigerate.

About John MacDowall

I was born in Poughkeepsie, NY. We moved to a farm during middle school where I learned about raising animals and growing food. Now, I live in the affluent suburbs of Washington, DC and wonder why people eat the way they do.

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