Beef Jerky

Good news team paleo: you do not need a fancy dehydrator to make your own jerky. All you need is your oven, and a bit of patience. I’ve put my favourite marinade below but do experiment with different flavours. Just remember not to add any fat to the marinade or it won’t dry properly, and it needs an acid base as this helps to start the process by curing the meat slightly. It also needs a bit of sweetness, so if you’re not happy with honey then try a blended can of pineapple.

You need:
750g – 1kg beef. You want something with very little fat (too much and it’ll go rancid when kept at room temperature) that’s easy to slice. I’ve used lean roasting joints before, and I hear skirt steak works well.
Marinade:
– juice of 2 lemons
– 4 tbsp soy sauce (not paleo! Leaving it out won’t ruin it, but it’s good to get that umami flavour. You could try porcini mushroom powder?)
– 1 tbsp honey
– salt
– chilli flakes, or powder. I prefer flakes because they look awesome when they’re sticking to the jerky. I like proper blow your face off heat so add about a tablespoon, but just adjust depending on your preference
– sweet paprika
A free afternoon

First prepare your meat by removing as much fat as possible, and slicing into strips 3-5mm thick. It’s up to you (and your knife skills) how thin you want it, but thinner strips dry faster.
Mix the ingredients for your marinade and add to the meat strips. I do this in a releasable freezer bag as it’s then easy to manipulate the bag and make sure everything’s covered in marinade. Leave for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Remove meat from marinade, leaving behind as much liquid as possible. Lay strips of meat flat on metal rack in the oven. It has to be a rack s you get thr air circulating underneath the meat as well as the top. You can use your oven shelves but make sure you put something underneath to catch the inevitable drips!
Put your oven on its lowest setting and leave to cook for 4 – 6 hours. Its a good idea to leave the door open a bit at least at the beginning so you let the steam escape: think of it as drying out the meat rather than cooking it.
The best way to test if it’s cooked is to bend it in half. If it snaps apart and it breaks cleanly along the connective tissue, rather than the meat, it’s ready. If the meat bends and you can’t see the dry white connective tissue, it’s not ready.
Strictly speaking this is now ambient stable! However this makes me a bit nervous, so if you’re going to keep it for longer than a week you might want to stick it in the fridge. I’ve never managed to make it last more than a week though….

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