On this episode of bottom chef we will be making beef jerky.
My grandpa makes, hands down, the best beef jerky on the planet. I’m not saying that because he’s family. I come from a long line of assholes and have always held the opinion that someone being blood only means you know better than everyone else how toxic they are. When Hillary was running for president, my grandpa told me the only thing worse than having a black president was a woman. I said, “Come on, grandpa. Hillary has done more than enough things to make her a terrifying candidate for leader of the free world on her own personal merits. There’s no reason to bring gender into this.” Although after this current shit show, he’d probably be open to Ru Paul 2020. The point is; when I say that racist old bastard is the Heisenberg of beef jerky, it is with complete objective partiality.
When my brothers and I were kids, the giving and withholding of jerky was used to control our behavior far more effectively than any ass whooping ever could. After decades of begging, Gramps finally gave me the recipe during a health scare where he thought he was going to die. He didn’t. Thanks for asking. Anyway, this miserable old piece of shit left out the secret ingredient. It’s been over ten years, and entire herds of cows have died in my quest to re-create grandpa’s jerky.
Well I’m not one of those fuckers who hoard their recipes because they are afraid nobody will come to visit unless you can bait them with their county famous BBQ sauce. I say if you got some joy then spread that shit. If I was Bill Cosby I’d be slipping my recipes in girl’s drinks all fucking day, son!
Making Jerky has three simple steps:
- Cut meat.
- Soak meat in marinade.
- Dry out meat.
So the first ingredient to good jerky is good meat. If you have the money, any animal that was killed during childhood is a win. It’s so tender you can taste its stolen innocence. Otherwise, in the world of jerky, flank steak is king. If you are experimenting, just buy some brisket on sale. It’s tough meat, but it’s cheap. Don’t be one of those pussies who cry when beef jerky is too hard to chew. Its beef jerky, not fucking foie gras. Responsible cooks will tell you to trim all the fat off because it will spoil and breed bacteria. If you get a cut of meat with a big ass slab of fat on it, you are going to want to cut it off or you’ll wind up with nasty, greasy ass jerky. I always make it a point to leave a little fat on though, because them shits is flavor.
The first step is to throw your dead animal carcass in the freezer for about an hour so it can get firm, but not frozen. You want your slices as thin as possible and that’s hard to do when your meat is flopping around like Donald’s dick at a piss orgy in a Moscow hotel room. Some people will tell you to slice your meat across the grain. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry. It doesn’t matter.
Once you have all your slices ready, start beating your meat like a teenager who “accidentally” walked in on his hot cousin changing clothes. This increases the surface area of the jerky so it absorbs more marinade, it tenderizes the meat, and flattening out your strips makes it look like you have a whole lot more end product when it’s all done.
The marinade is where jerky magic happens.
Here’s the recipe grandpa goat gave me.
It’s a good basic recipe, but it isn’t THE ONE. You can get as crazy as you want with your marinade, but I’ve found keeping it simple is better than going full on mad scientist.
For this recipe I used:
4 pounds of meat
1 cup of soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon furikake
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon curing salt
I normally throw in a teaspoon of onion powder but I was sharing this batch with a friend that is allergic to onions so I didn’t this time. I also wish I’d thrown in a teaspoon of cumin for a little earthiness.
“I buy soy sauce by the gallon bitches.”Curing salt cures the meat so it doesn’t go rancid. But honestly, I was making jerky for years before I found out I was supposed to be using curing salt and I never had a problem. If your jerky lasts long enough to go bad, you suck at life. It was amazing how fucking hard it was for me to find this shit. I went to every grocery store in town and finally found the stuff in the camping section at Academy.
I’m always trying out new secret ingredients. When I made this batch I had a jar of furikake left over that I made for Spam Musubi. Furikake is a Japanese seasoning made out of toasted sesame seeds, roasted seaweed, sugar, salt, and MSG. Other furikake ingredients are shit like dried shrimp, sardines, salmon, etc., etc. I didn’t use any of that stuff. The most important part of preparing furikake is pointing at your crotch and asking everyone in the room,” Who wants to see my furry kake?” Anyway, furikake has some serious umami flavor and it worked out more fabulous than Elton John performing on New Year’s Eve, live in Gomorrah. Next time I’m going to use more.
Ok, so take all those ingredients and bring them to a boil and then let em simmer for 10-15 minutes. This dissolves everything into an even solution instead of just having a bunch of shit floating in soy sauce and all your brown sugar winds up stuck to one piece of jerky. Then let the soy brew cool to room temperature.
I just bought a smoke infuser for $30. It’s basically a little box with a fan that sucks air in one end and shoots it out the other. Tech savvy stoners probably have similar toys. I destroyed some pecan shells and set em on fire to fill a container full of meat with pecan smoke. The flavor didn’t really come through so I’ll have to play around with that some more. Normally I just use a tablespoon of liquid smoke.
Put the meat and the soy brew into a gallon zip-lock bag and toss it in the refrigerator. A couple times a day I’ll flip over the bag and squish it to help spread the marinade around. I don’t know if it actually helps but it makes me feel good.
After 24 hours, drain the bag and pat all the strips dry with paper towels. I didn’t used to do this step because I didn’t want to wipe off all that good flavor, but then half your dehydrating process is just drying all the shit on the surface, then the end product is sticky and not fully dehydrated. Don’t be like me.
You don’t need a dehydrator or a smoke shed to make jerky. All you need is an oven. Move the oven wire rack to the top slot and use toothpicks to hang the strips between the racks. Put some tinfoil on the bottom to catch the drippings or you’ll wind up with a fucked off mess and a kitchen full of smoke. Turn the oven to the lowest temperature it will go to and prop the door open with a wooden spoon to allow air to circulate. Every oven is different so your drying time will vary. A good rule of thumb is to start checking your jerky after five hours until it is dry like you’d expect jerky to be, but not shriveled up pieces of leather.
This part is super important but often overlooked. Once the jerky is done, put it on a plate and put a paper towel over it for an hour or two. Moisture is still escaping the meat at this point so if you put it straight into a plastic bag all that moisture will be trapped in there and get reabsorbed.
Congratulations. You can now walk around gnawing on four pounds of animal flesh while ripping warm, soy sauce farts for the next week.