Both of these beef jerky recipes can be easily made in your home kitchen. If you have a meat smoker, by all means use it. If you don't, you can do a good job in your kitchen oven. If you do use your smoker, you can leave the liquid smoke out of the marinades. If you would prefer not to apply wood smoke, follow the recipes as written.
I find that 1 or 2 pans of wood chips (depending on species) are all it really takes to give my jerky the flavor I want...
...Obviously, more smoke means deeper flavor, but be careful. The jerky can take on an acrid and unpleasant taste if you over-do it.
Unlike in sausage making, where you want a reasonably high fat content, the best jerky has little or no fat. The best cuts for jerky making come from:
Meat from other portions of the animal can be used, but most tend to be either too fatty or too tough for whole muscle jerky.
No matter what cuts of meat you use, the most important things to remember are to:
On average, you can expect 5 lbs of meat to yield about 1 to 1 1/4 lbs of finished jerky.
This is our opportunity to add even more flavor to the mix though, and here are 2 great marinades that I use all the time.
It's best to marinate your jerky strips for at least 12 hours before you start to dry them. I usually try to let them go over-night in the chill chest.
After 12 hours, remove and drain the jerky slices and take them to the drying oven or smoker. Dry as close to 100 degrees F. as you can manage.
If you are adding your smoke flavor with wood, you may find that you need to raise the temperature to around 130 degrees at first, but once the smoking is finished, drop back to 100 degrees.
This will be easy to accomplish by leaving the smoker door open for a bit after you have reduced the thermostat.
Total drying time will vary a great deal depending on air temperature and humidity, but it will be in the area of 8-10+ hours.
When it is done, the jerky should be tough and flexible (and maybe crack a little) when it is bent over. It should not be brittle and/or break.
Store your finished beef jerky recipe in air-tight jars or bags, and refrigerate for best keeping.
No matter what whole muscle beef jerky recipes you use, these basic directions will work.
It is important to remember to use a cure, especially when you're drying in the smoker. Remember, in all of these beef jerky recipes, because of the low temperatures we use, our number 1 enemy is food poisoning