If you read the list of ingredients on commercially made beef jerky two things always appear: sugar and natural flavorings. “Natural flavorings” means the meat has been handled so that the real natural flavor has been processed out of it thereby creating the need to add chemicals back into it to make it taste like it used to before it was over-processed. Not only is the processing unnecessary but so is the price tag. Beef jerky is expensive! But so tasty! And a great snack for protein-starved carnivorous CrossFitters.
If you have a food dehydrator, you can use this marinade and follow manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have this clunky piece of kitchen equipment, never fear. You can dehydrate in your oven. It takes time, all day, but it’s worth it for several reasons: it’s cost effective, minimally processed, natural and really tasty. Best of all, you did it yourself, and that feels pretty good when snacking on your own beef jerky.
Beef Jerky (from Clean Eating magazine, January/February 2012)
You will need:
Cutting board, chef’s knife (really, really sharp), gallon-size heavy-duty zip-top bag, rimmed baking sheet, paper towels, 12-inch wooden skewers, gas or electric oven, aluminum foil or foil pan, small kitchen towel or wooden spoon, cooling racks, airtight containers.
2 pounds of round beef roast, flank steak or London broil, trimmed of visible fat
2/3 cup coconut aminos (original recipe calls for low-sodium soy sauce)
2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce (this is what the original recipe calls for and how I made it, however, Worcestershire has both molasses and sugar so if you’re strict paleo, use 2/3 cup more coconut aminos, or a combination of the two)
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika or liquid smoke (original recipe says optional, but I don’t think it’s optional, I think you need to choose one or the other. I used smoked paprika because I’m addicted to it.)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional, add it if you want it spicy)
If using a large roast or steak, slice beef into 2 or 3 equal pieces. Wrap beef in plastic wrap and place in freezer for about 1 hour to ease slicing. Remove from freezer and transfer to a cutting board. Using only the tip of a chef’s knife, slice the beef along the grain into equal ¼-inch-thick strips.
Transfer beef to a large, heavy-duty zip-top bag. Pour marinade into bag, seal tightly and turn to coat beef. Lay flat in refrigerator and marinate for 3 to 6 hours (I did 6), turning 1 to 2 times (NOTE: Do not exceed 6 hours).
Line a baking sheet with 2 sheets of paper towel. Remove beef from bag, shaking or gently wringing each strip to remove excess marinade. Transfer to baking sheet and cover with additional 2 sheets paper towel. Press down through towel to flatten strips and absorb as much marinade as possible. Remove oven racks and place foil drip pan in bottom of oven, or line bottom with foil. Preheat oven to lowest setting, 140-170 (my lowest is 170).
- Thread skewers through one end of strips, leaving 1 inch between each strip. Lay skewers horizontally across oven rack.
Transfer to highest position in oven, allowing strips to hang without touching oven walls. Close oven, propping door open a crack with a small, rolled-up dish towel or a wooden spoon. (NOTE: This is necessary to allow moisture to escape from the oven; the oven temperature is low enough that this is not a fire danger.) Cook for 5 hours.
Check strips for doneness; remove dry, hard and darkened pieces from skewers and place on a cooling rack. Cook remaining strips for 1 to 2 hours, checking often for doneness (I didn’t need to cook any longer). When strips are fully cooled, transfer to airtight containers and store upright at room temperature for up to 2 months (NOTE: Do not pack strips tightly). Discard strips that show signs of spoilage (mold or unpleasant odor) over time.
Gnaw on some of this on road trips, in the movie theater, before or after a wod, watching tv, or whenever the snack attacks. It may take all day, but it’s not difficult and totally worth it.