Today is the second batch of beef jerky I've made. It is really simple. We get all our meat from Dustin's BFF, so we always have locally grown, fresh beef in our freezer. (My mom makes it with hamburger and turkey burger meat mixed together.) We have a lot of cuts that we just aren't getting around to eating, so I'm using them. The key is that you want lean meat. The fattier the meat, the shorter the life of the jerky. I just stick ours in a sealed container in the fridge so we don't have to worry about it. (well, that and Dustin eats a batch in 2 days, so I don't really have to worry about it going bad!)
I recently got a pair of Pampered Chef kitchen shears, so I was anxious to use them. Raw meat grosses me out, so they make this job MUCH easier and faster. Cut the meat in thin strips. I don't cut them very long (they just don't fit in the container I use if I do). You also want to cut it perpendicular to the grain of the meat. That makes it more tender.
Then, I place them in a big glass bowl and let them marinate for at least an hour.
The marinade is easy. It is mostly soy sauce. Pour in enough so that the meat will be covered. Then, add a few dashes of liquid smoke, some powdered garlic, onion, and cayenne peppers. Mix it all up and let it sit.
After I think it has soaked long enough, I spray Pam on my drying rack and lay it all out. I don't know that the Pam is a necessity, I just don't want it to stick. This batch took three trays. I have 4.
This was the third tray, so it isn't very full. It also isn't a great pic.
Then, just plug in the dehydrator and let it go for about 8 hours. Last time, 6 was long enough. You want the meat to dry, but not be crunchy. Dustin usually test tastes it from time to time while it is in the dryer. It really depends on how think you have cut the meat. Or, if you are like my mom, how thick the jerky maker has the strips of ground meat.
The whole house smells like I poured soy sauce all over the place, but that goes away. Minus the drying time, which is pretty uninvolved, it only takes me about 20 minutes to get it ready and in the marinate.
I don't really like it, but Dustin LOVES it. And, it is so much better and CHEAPER than buying prepackaged jerky from the store.