Here is a simple recipe for turning 2 pounds of lean beef strips into solid-piece beef jerky at a cost considerably less than any you would pay at retail. You can vary the seasonings to suit your own taste. Use your imagination: Substitute white wine for the soy sauce, add a teaspoon of liquid smoke or some red pepper flakes, or use a little more salt and less sugar (or no sugar at all).
This recipe is by Merle Ellis and was originally published in the Chicago Tribune.
Ground and formed jerky can be made by substituting 2 pounds of lean ground beef for the solid meat. Mix all of the ingredients together in a good-sized mixing bowl. Use your hands to make sure the seasonings are evenly and well distributed. Refrigerate the mixture for 2 or 3 hours (the longer, the stronger the flavor). Then roll the meat out like cookie dough, either in little rounds or in large sheets to be cut into strips for drying. Dry just as you would solid-piece jerky.
To get a uniform thinness for even drying, lay a strip of 1/16th-inch cardboard on each side of the meat (the long sides removed from the lid of a shoebox work well). When you roll over the meat, the strips hold the rolling pin up just enough to create a uniform thickness, a good thinness for drying. Another trick for rolling beef jerky thin: Get two rubber ''O'' rings from the hardware store, one to fit each end of your rolling pin. The thickness of the ''O'' ring will determine the thinness of the jerky.
- 2 Pounds beef flank or bottom round, cut into thin strips (about 1/16th inch)
- 1/3 Cup soy sauce
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1/8 Teaspoon salt
- 1/8 Teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
Step 1: In a large, shallow dish, arrange 2 pounds beef flank or bottom round (cut into thin strips, about 1/16th inch).
Step 2: In a separate bowl, combine 1/3 cup soy sauce, 1 to 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1/8 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar.
Step 3: Pour mixture over the beef strips and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes. You can let it marinate longer (2 or 3 hours in your refrigerator) but don't go too long, unless you use something milder than soy sauce (otherwise, that's all you'll taste).
Step 4: Preheat oven to 150 F. Drain beef strips and arrange them in a single layer on a rack set in a shallow baking pan.
Step 5: Dry (do not bake) in the oven for 6 to 8 hours. If your oven is too hot, leave the door slightly ajar. Drying time will vary depending upon the humidity and the fat content of the meat.
Step 6: Once removed from the oven, cool and store in an open container to allow drying to continue; seal the container to prevent further drying. Refrigerate for long storage.