Meat. Spices. A little sugar.
I have been making batches of dried meat for a little while now. We bought a Sunbeam Dehydrator a while ago, essentially so we could start experimenting with dehydrating food in order to cut down on weight while tramping. Of course, jerky became an obvious experiment.
I hadn’t made any for a while, and thought, since I had promised to include a bit more food on this here site, jerky would be a good start.
What is it, really?
My normal recipe (if you can call it that) has involved soy sauce, sugar, chilli and whatever other herbs and spice I felt like at the time. I thought I should try something different and found a recipe online that involved both a wet and a dry cure. Looking at the recipe now, and the differences between jerky and biltong, another dried meat method, I may have ended up making something that sort of straddles the two. Vinegar is often used in curing biltong, and it is cut more like the biltong would be, but the dehydration process is closer to jerky, rather than air drying, like biltong normally would be.
Regardless, the result is a tasty, chewy meat snack. Great for the trail, or any time really.
Step One – the wet cure
Cut the meat up. In this case, I just used some rump steak, but really, any lean meat is suitable. I was experimenting, so didn’t make much – normally, something nice and think is the preference. Again, depending on how you like it cut, and the final texture you want. You can cut with the grain to have a chewier version, or against if you want it to fall apart easier. Experiment!
The wet cure was (roughly)
- 1 Cup White Vineagar
- 1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 ‘Shot’ Rye Whiskey
The amounts are going to differ, depending on your personal preferences – remember – taste it before you put the meat into it. You might like it sweeter, or saltier. Mix it all up in a bowl, turn the meat into it, make sure it’s all covered nicely, then cling wrap the container and put it in the fridge for 24 hours.
Step Two – the dry cure
When you remove the meat from the fridge the next day, you might notice that it is essentially already partly ‘cooked’ or, cured. This I think is what makes it more akin to biltong than jerky, but whatever. Semantics. Take it out, pat the meat dry. Now, its time to make the dry cure.
- The zest of one lime
- Chilli Flakes
- More Salt and Pepper
- More Brown Suger
Again, add to taste – I used a hot chili, and lots of it, and backed off on the second lot of salt. Once it’s all mixed up in a bowl, toss the meat in it. Try and get a good even coverage.
Then, it’s into the dehydrator. Different machines have different settings and may require more or less time, but essentially, I put mine on before I went to bed, got up in the morning, checked it, stopped it there. Turn it out into a container, and I suggest you try to leave it another 24 hours before you eat any.
So, how did it turn out? Bit of a funny one, this one – it was the first time I had used a vinegar cure and it was almost a little too ‘tart’ for me. Although in the end what it had was a high explosion of flavour – and I think my reservations came from the fact that I was used to a more subtle taste. It was still good though. We ate it all. Looking forward to getting some more meat and experimenting with even more flavors.