dude food :: episode 1 :: beef jerky

Introducing “Dude Food” – a new video series from My Life as a Foodie and Zeroface Project designed to teach men (and women) how easy it is to cook the things men (and women) love to eat. The recipes are simple and approachable, and the pay off is enormous.

In our first episode, we’re making the king of snacks – beef jerky. Because nothing goes better with beer than beef jerky, it’s the most important snack food you need to learn to make. Ingredients are simple (lean beef, salt, pepper, liquid smoke), preparation is a breeze (slice the beef, season it, place it in a dehydrator), and the equipment necessary (sharp knife, cutting board, container, $30 dehydrator from Target) is very accessible.

Recipe:
3 pounds eye of round or london broil, trimmed of fat
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
liquid smoke (optional – see note below)

Freeze meat until firm, but not completely frozen. Remove from freezer and, on a clean cutting board, slice the roast into 1/8″ slices.

Place the sliced beef in a container, one layer at a time, salting each piece generously, then seasoning with cracked black pepper. If using liquid smoke, add 1 to 3 drops to every other layer.

A NOTE ABOUT LIQUID SMOKE:
This stuff is not a marinade or seasoning. It’s like aroma-therapy for meat. You add a couple of drops to every third layer of sliced jerky. While the meat is curing for 48 hours, the liquid smoke permeates the entire batch, so you’ll get an essence of smoke throughout. Use too much, however, and you’ll be eating dried campfire sticks instead of beef jerky. So go easy, cowboy.

Once all of the meat has been sliced, layered, seasoned, and granted a splash or two of (optional) liquid smoke, cover and refrigerate for 48 hours. I like to turn the container over after 24 hours, but you don’t have to do that. But if you want to be cool like me, turn that container the following day.

When you’re ready to start drying your jerky, take the container of cured meat out of the refrigerator, allow to come to room temperature (3-4 hours), then start laying the meat on dehydrator racks, or (if using an oven) on the racks in your oven. If you decide to use the oven, remember to lay down a few sheets of aluminum foil along the bottom to collect any drips coming off the meat as it dries. Your wife will thank me later. Remember to keep the meat from touching. Although the meat will dry considerably, you don’t want any pieces to touch, or you’ll end up with undried areas.

If using an oven to dry your jerky, set to the lowest possible setting, and leave the oven door cracked a little to allow air to escape. If using a dehydrator, simply cover and plug it in. If you’re using an off-set smoker (and God help us, haven’t used any liquid smoke) make sure the meat is at least 18 inches away from the heat source, and keep a consistent low fire fed with fresh wood every 30 minutes or so.

If using a dehydrator, start checking your jerky (bottom racks first) after 5 hours. If you’re using the oven, after 3 hours. If you’re using an off-set smoker, after 4.

When your jerky is dry to the touch, semi-pliable, and does not appear to be partially cooked in any areas, it’s finished. It’s OK if you dry the jerky out beyond this point, but it’s best when it has a bit of a soft bite.

This recipe is very basic. Feel free to embellish as you wish. You can marinate the meat with various spices and sauces (worcestershire, teriyaki, honey, hot peppers, etc.).  It’s open season on beef, so go nuts!

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13 Comments

  1. Loved it Phil! You have inspired me…I definitely want to try to do some jerky. BTW, Dude Food is a great concept and I can’t wait to see more!

    • Thanks Steve! Apologies for the image quality. Squared away now. Future episodes will be in HD, but I appreciate your support.

      Get on the jerky! You see how simple it is. 🙂

  2. Love it, Phil! Congrats on your 1st Dude Food!! Funny thing is I grew up eating deer jerky when I was a kid. My great uncle was a hunter and he cured his own venison jerky – it was fantastic stuff. A string of it always hung by my great grandparents fireplace. We just grabbed a piece when we wanted it. I so wish I had his recipe. But now that I’ve seen you do it I may try it myself with beef. To anyone else reading this: I’ve tasted Phil’s jerky and it’s incredible stuff. Cheers!

    • Thanks Charles! I appreciate your support.

      It’s amazing how many stories people have about venison jerky. It seems to be perhaps the most popular thing hunters do with the bucks they bag every year. I’ve had venison jerky and it’s fantastic. Most hunters are excellent cooks, because they’re really in tune with what living off of the land meant back in the day when hunting was the only way to procure food for your family. Definitely one of the more caveman-like things you can do – hunt, kill, and prepare a deer for jerky.

  3. This is great, Phil. I love the new segment and I can’t wait for more. Did I read that right – bacon is next? When???????

    The crack references were funny, but the brokeback mountain flashback really made me laugh. Cowboy Jerky.

    • Hey King!! Dude, I love your wordpress name. Whatever your real name is, have it legally changed to this immediately.

      Bacon is definitely next. It requires that you mail order one ingredient (pink salt) so if you want to be prepared to make the bacon when the next episode of Dude Food gets released, you can go ahead and order it here:

      http://www.sausagemaker.com/11050instacureand153no18oz.aspx

      The only thing I highly suggest is that you DO NOT USE IT until you watch the episode. This stuff, if ingested in too high of a quantity, can be fatal. So order it now if you must, but leave it alone until we make bacon.

  4. Look out Food Network! Great job Phil! Very entertaining and informative and I definitely want to make this now. I thought it took a lot longer to make jerky and figured there was special equipment involved.

    One question: What’s the difference between making jerky in the oven compared to the dehydrator you used?

    • Thanks for your compliments, Bill. Glad you enjoyed the segment.

      The reason I prefer using the dehydrator over the oven is simply that the oven (even at its lowest setting) can still cook the meat if left for too long. You don’t want to cook this meat. You want to dry it. The dehydrator works at a very low temperature and therefore takes longer to dry the meat out. The oven may do the job in as little as 4 hours. The dehydrator won’t even come close to drying out the bottom rack (the one closest to the heat source) until 5 or even 6 hours.

      I should also mention that when using a dehydrator, that you check the bottom rack for completed jerky first. Once the meat on that rack is dry, take it out, and allow the rack above it to finish. Continue doing this until all of the meat is dried to the point of being jerky. Depending on how much meat you’re drying, the entire batch could take up to 14 hours. It’s an all-day project, but you don’t have to watch it like a hawk.

  5. Great job, Phil! I like you on camera too. Look forward to seeing more.

  6. dang, i’m so hungry now

  7. Phil,

    Congrats on the inaugural Dude Food! I haven’t made jerky in 20-something years. Back then I’d use the oven method and it was like crack. I bought a dehydrator last year for drying hops and that thing is getting used once or twice a year. It’s time to put it to work making some jerky.

    Looking forward to the next episode.

    Cheers!
    BuBBy

    • Bubby – I had no idea you were drying hops. James Spencer (of Basic Brewing Radio) also uses a dehydrator to dry his hops. He said he was going to try this and make some hoppy beef jerky.

      There are some genius minds out there. Let me know how your jerky turns out. In production on the Bacon episode currently. Will be fun. Stay tuned.


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