Jerky has been a food staple for working ranch hands since the late 1800’s, primarily because it was lightweight, transportable and could be eaten on the go. The very best cowboy jerky was and is made from very lean, gristle-free meat, cut from the deer’s hindquarters––steaks are cut across the grain and jerky is cut with the grain.
1 lb venison bottom round (454 g)
1 1/2 tsp pickling salt (9.75 g)
1/4 tsp pink curing salt #1 (1.4 g)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (1.1 g)
1/2 tsp onion powder (1.8 g)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (1.55 g)
1/2 tsp liquid smoke, optional (2.5 ml)
1 tsp coarse black pepper (1.25 g)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (15 ml)
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar (22 g)
1/2 cup ice cold water (118 ml)
cracked black pepper to taste
1. Cut away all visible fat and connective tissue from the venison, chill to 31°F (-0.55°C) then slice into 1/4” (0.64 cm) thick strips.
2. Cut across the grain for a tender bite or with the grain for a chewy bite.
3. Combine remaining ingredients in a non-reactive container, mix well, add meat strips, cover, and refrigerate overnight to cure.
4. Arrange cured meat strips on oiled racks in a single layer, leave enough space between the pieces to allow sufficient air flow.
5. Dry meat strips at 145°F (63°C) in usual manner until meat is dried to about 40-50% of its original weight (green weight).
6. Depending on meat thickness and the drying method , whole muscle jerky can take 6-12 hours to dry.*
7. Properly dried jerky should keep up to 2 weeks in a sealed container or you can vacuum seal and freeze up to 3 months.
*To test for doneness, remove one piece of jerky from drying device and allow it to cool slightly. Bend the test piece into the shape of a horseshoe. If it cracks but doesn’t break, it’s considered dry enough and ready to eat.
Because there is a possibility of microorganism contamination, do not reuse the marinade once the meat has been removed. Safety first––throw it away.