I love jerky. I’ve always loved it. My wife has not been a fan of my obsession with it. She always said there’s too much salt, too many bad things involved… While this is true of most store bought, cheap jerky… making your own would allow me to determine what goes into it.
So, with that, I put a food dehydrator into my amazon wish list (which is basically the “Buy me this for birthdays/father’s day/Christmas” list). I chose the Nesco FD-80 square dehydrator. I’d read a lot of reviews and this seemed to be the best. I also put the Jumbo Jerky Gun Kit into my list as well. These both arrived in time for Father’s Day, which was lovely.
It sat for a few weeks because I didn’t have any meat that was low enough in fat to use. After some cursory reading of jerky making, I found that leaner meat makes better jerky. It also makes jerky that’s less likely to go rancid. The dehydrator and jerky gun kit came with spices, but the spices contain nitrites and I wasn’t about to use those right away. Eventually, I found my way to the grocery store where I bought some cheap, lean ground beef. My wife was not happy with my choice as it wasn’t grass fed, organic beef. She told me that if I bought that I’d be eating it myself as she wouldn’t have it. I told her I wasn’t going to blow a big chunk of change on my first batch in the great odds that I screwed it up. So, a pound and a bit of jerky all for me then… or so I thought.
When I got home, I seasoned a bowl with some salt, pepper, Tabasco chipotle sauce and Sriracha sauce then dumped the meat in and started blending it together by hand, occasionally adding more of the above seasoning to it. In my head I was thinking “more seasoning than I need because it’s going to burn off…” THIS is incorrect. You need to use slightly LESS because dehydrating makes the season MORE potent. I loaded my jerky gun (which is basically a huge extruder and started working it onto the tray. I tried doing it in a circular pattern (don’t do this, you waste a LOT of space). The gun is kinda weird. It doesn’t come out as smooth as the above picture. It kinda burps a bit. Also, have a knife on hand to cut the strips off when you get to the end of the tray. Lay your strips out as the above picture, in straight lines. The other problem is when you get to the end of the gun, you’re left with this little hockey puck of perfectly good meat. Don’t do this: don’t slap it on the dehydrator and expect it to dry properly (or at least at the same length of time). It’s too thick. Either press it down a bit and put it on the dehydrator or cut it up a bit. I ended up just drying it as is. I set it on high and let it go for 4 hours. After 4 hours, I had a piece… it was good, but over-seasoned. I ate the hockey puck… it wasn’t quite cooked all the way through. I didn’t get sick, so there’s that…
I offered my wife a piece. At first she turned it down. Then, a few minutes later she tried a piece… and another… and then a few more exclaiming, “This is the best thing I’ve ever eaten…”
Thursday Weigh-In – 274lbs