Did you know you could make jerky in the oven, without a dehydrator? Well, you can…and it’s so easy and delicious!
I used to think beef jerky was gross and smelled terrible, but nearly seven years married to Ben has changed my taste a wee bit. 🙂 Once in awhile, it absolutely hits the spot! [But I still think it smells bad.] Ben loves it so much that he often chooses it as a road trip snack, or I’ll buy him a bag of something interesting if I come across it somewhere. A few years ago, I stumbled upon the perfect Christmas gift for him… beef jerky seasoning/cure blends so he could make it for himself! And it’s been fun to see him experiment with homemade jerky ever since!
That’s why I immediately thought about sharing
our his method of jerky making for this month’s edition of #bookclubcookbookCC! Ashley at Cheese Curd in Paradise is our hostess, and her book choice was The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. This book is supposed to be an excellent Civil War historical fiction novel–it is now on my list to read, though I didn’t get to it this month. [Psst… if you’re reading this post on February 29th, be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post to enter the giveaway. I’m behind this month so it’s only live until 6pm Pacific time today!]
Even if you haven’t heard of this book, it inspired the early 1990s movie version of Gettysburg, a film my sister and I absolutely dreaded our dad watching while we were growing up. It was two VHS tapes long and just seemed to drag ON and ON and ON. 🙂 Since dried beef was common food fare for Civil War soldiers, I wanted to share our homemade beef jerky method with you today in honor of #bookclubcookbookCC! I’ve never tried Civil War era beef jerky, but from my internet research it seems pretty bad. Hopefully this version will be a little more palatable. 🙂
When you read through the recipe below, you’ll notice that it takes a LONG time to make beef jerky. A minimum of 24 hours and really, for good beef jerky, more than 48. Most of the time is spent marinating the meat in the fridge. Ben has some purchased seasoning/cure mixes that he has used and recommended [link in recipe], but he has also experimented with his own blends too–but he didn’t write down what he did so I can’t share them with you. In the recipe, I do link to another blog post I found online with a few seasoning suggestions so you can check those out if you prefer to not purchase seasoning. After this, you’re ready to cook the meat. Since we don’t have a dehydrator, we use our oven set at a very low temperature and keep it propped open just a bit for ventilation. From what I’ve read, this isn’t authentic beef jerky since it isn’t really completely dried/smoked and it does cook a little, but it’s pretty darn good. The whole cooking process can take up to 5 hours, so this isn’t a process to start later in the evening. The longer you cook it, the drier the meat becomes… and as it cools, it will dry out even more. When at home, we keep our jerky in the fridge to keep it fresher longer [obviously not the traditional method], but it will last at room temperature or outdoors for a few days if you want to take it camping or on other outdoor adventures. Supposedly this method of cooking jerky makes it last for 1-2 months, but ours gets eaten wayyy before then so I can’t say for sure. Ha!
Ben has made it to keep around the house as a snack, but also for family get togethers and a camping trip. It is so tasty and fun to make! I think it would be a great family project–just make sure to not eat the whole batch during the cooking process! Enjoy! 🙂 Thanks, Ashley, for hosting this month and inspiring me to share this awesome treat with everyone!
one year ago: Freezer Breakfast Burritos
two years ago: Spicy Chicken, Spinach, and Corn Enchiladas
three years ago: Italian Sausage and Red Rice
four years ago: Sausage, Apple, and Egg Casserole
five years ago: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
Method from Two Dogs in the Kitchen
- 2-4 pounds beef, in cuts like london broil, bottom round, eye of round, flank steak, etc. – you want a lean, tender cut
- seasoning blend – we used this one from Nesco. You can also make your own… with any flavors/seasonings you like! There are several recipes here, but I haven’t tried them. From my research, you will want to use 1 tablespoon of salt for each pound of meat to help cure the jerky.
Begin a day or two before you want to cook your jerky. Two days before is better, if you can swing it. You’ll want to start by trimming any extra fat off your beef, then cutting the meat into thin strips about 1/8-1/4 inch thick. If you cut against the grain it will be more like regular beef jerky, but if you with the grain, it will be more lean in texture and appearance. Place in a large bowl, toss with seasonings of your choice, and then cover well with plastic wrap [tuck in so it doesn’t dry out]. Refrigerate for 24-48 hours.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 200 degrees F. Remove meat from marinade/seasoning. If your mixture has any liquid, just shake it off but you don’t need to pat it dry or anything. Now you have some options….
You have two cooking methods options:
- Thread strips onto kebab skewers and place directly on oven racks that have been sprayed with cooking spray. You’ll have to space them out to go in between the slats, and line the bottom of your oven [before preheating] with foil to avoid a big mess. This is a quicker cooking process, and helps cook the meat evenly but it’s a little trickier to set up.
- Place strips about 1/4 inch apart on cookie sheets lined with aluminum foil that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray. Much easier, but may take a little longer to cook.
Bake for 45 minutes, being sure to place a dish towel in the oven door for slight ventilation.
After 45 minutes, check meat every 20 minutes until meat is done. Each slice will take different amounts of time to cook based on its size and thickness. It should take between 2 and 5 hours total for all the meat to cook, depending on how chewy you want it. When it comes out of the oven, it should be darker in color and slightly dry to the touch, but it will harden/dry more as it cools. When each slice is cooked, allow to cool completely on a cooling rack, patting any grease off with a paper towel. Store in an airtight container or ziploc bag. We keep it in the fridge for safe keeping over 1-2 months [not that it lasts that long!] but it’ll last a few days at room temperature. The better dried it is, the longer it’ll last on the counter without spoiling. We feel it’s better to be safe than sorry, but it’s ultimately your choice. Enjoy!