Because of the rumors of how scary the chicken treats that come from Asia are, I decided to make my own chicken dog treats. We go through a lot of chicken in our house… (Warning: this post contains graphic images of chicken.)
We buy whole chickens and save off the breasts to feed the children and the bones for chicken stock. Wings get deep-fried. The legs and the thighs make a good stew or, this week, dog treats!
Break down the chickens into four work bowls:
fat & skin
thighs and legs
The carcasses go into the stockpot, to get simmered with mirepoix for stock, but that’s another post.
Chicken jerky is a challenge. It is difficult to get all of the moisture out of chicken meat. Moisture in the finished product will cause spoilage. We’ll take a two-horned approach to this problem. One – we will cure the chicken meat in Morton’s Tender Quick. Two – we will flatten and perforate the meat within an inch of its life so the water has no place to hide.
Morton Tender Quick is a curing salt with enough nitrates and nitrites to kill anything that would spoil our meat. It’s mostly botulism that we’re killing off here. Curing instructions on the package recommend 1 cup to 1 gallon of water. I mixed this up and cured it in the refrigerator overnight.
The next day, I set about to flatten the meat and lay it out on the food dehydrator mats. I made myself a workstation of a plastic cutting board, walled in with dish towels. Hitting the meat with a meat tenderizer hammer causes quite a bit of splatter that can be caught by the towel walls. Some of the thicker pieces got butterflied before their pounding.
I set the Dehydrator for 12 hours at 145 degrees F. Once the drying step was complete, I wiped off the fat that has wept to the surface of the meat with some towel and cut the pieces into my bite-sized treats, removing anything that was too hard or thick or gross!