My husband loves beef jerky. It is one of those things I buy as a special treat, or for his stocking at Christmas time. It is expensive, so the times I buy it are very limited. When my friend, Bekki, posted a recipe for making your own beef jerky, I was ecstatic. What a great idea! Cost effective, better for you, and customizable to your liking. I rushed out to buy the ingredients and made it within a week. Unfortunately, I did not dry out my beef, but rather, cooked it to a crisp. I didn't give up though, I tried again a second time and kept a very close eye on it in the oven this time, to make sure I didn't ruin it again. And it came out perfectly. So I keep making it and Adam keeps eating it. And now Jack loves beef jerky too. I had intentions of freezing some for the summer, but my boys eat it all too quickly!
Homemade Beef Jerky
2 pounds (can be a little more or less) lean steak, at least 1" thick (london broil, top round, sirloin - organic if possible)
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup lemon juice
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
few dashes Frank's Red Hot Sauce, Tabasco sauce, or a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Directions:Before cutting, you may want to put your steak in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes to make it easier to cut thinly.
I cut my steak in half to make the pieces more manageable.
Thinly slice the meat, against the natural grain, into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices. Having a sharp knife will make this task much easier. If you are unfamiliar with cutting against the grain, check out this post, which explains it in more detail.
Place your beef slices in a large ziplock bag. Make your marinade by mixing the ingredients listed above.
Pour the marinade over the beef slices in the ziplock bag.
Use your hands to massage the marinade all around the beef. Refrigerate for about 2 hours.
After your meat is done marinating, prepare a couple of baking sheets. Line the baking sheets with aluminum foil (to catch any drippage from the meat and make for an easy clean up) and place a metal cooling rack (like you use for cookies) on top of the foil. Lightly spray the cooling rack with nonstick spray.
Drain the marinade out of the ziplock bag and place the beef slices on a few paper towels. Lightly pat to remove any excess moisture.
Place the beef slices on the cooling racks, in a single layer.
I used a steak that was 1 1/2 pounds, and it made enough for two baking sheets.
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees. Place the beef jerky baking sheets, side by side, on the middle rack of your oven. I propped my oven door open using a wooden spoon to help prevent the oven from over heating. Bekki explained to me (after I burnt the first batch!) that you don't want to cook the beef, you are DRYING it out. Once the meat hits a certain temp the collagen in the meat will liquefy, and it will cook instead of drying. Bekki has an older convection style oven and she cooks her jerky at 180 degrees for 6-12 hours. My newer oven cooked our jerky in just 2 hours at 170 degrees (with the wooden spoon propping the door open the entire time). The thicker your pieces are, the longer this will take. This is really trial and error since everyone's ovens are different. Make this during the day when you are home and can watch it carefully for doneness.
You know the jerky if done when it is dried, but still brick red in color. You do not want this to be brown and grayish in color, that means it cooked and not dried.
Sometimes when I make jerky, I pull out the thinner pieces once they look down and let the thicker pieces cook for a few more minutes. With my oven, all the jerky is done by 2 1/2 hours. So start checking it around 1 hour and 45 minutes. Don't be discouraged if your jerky takes much longer though. The cooking time can vary tremendously depending on your oven and the thickness of your slices.
Store in an airtight container. This will keep your jerky fresh and even moisten it up a bit. This will keep for weeks but it usually only last for a day or two in our house. You can also freeze it in an ziplock bag.
You can also store in a glass jar.
If you have any beef jerky lovers in your family, try this recipe. The flavor from the marinade is right on, and the method isn't that hard to learn. Once you have the method down pat (for me it took two tries), you will realize how fun and exciting it is to make beef jerky at home.