Homemade Beef Jerky

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Wednesday was Brad and I’s third anniversary. In the grand tradition of our wedding anniversaries, we did something extra special…

We went out for pizza and beer. (We’re hardcore, I know.)

It’s not much of a change from what we did our first two anniversaries. We’re trying to get away from the fast food chains, though. (One of the anniversaries we went to Chipotle. *Cue your whispering* I KNOW. We’re so ashamed, you guys.)

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Anyhoodle, so I’ve learned that buying Brad gifts is really really hard. Like, extremely difficult. Akin to winning the Nobel Prize, even. Generally whenever B buys something for himself, he exchanges it 4 times before finally getting the exact thing he wanted. (This used to annoy me to no end, but now I think it’s kind of endearing… but I still won’t go shopping with him.) But, suffice it to say, whatever I buy him will either end up being exchanged too many times to count, or, sit unused in his closet because he doesn’t want to hurt my feelings by exchanging it.

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So the third anniversary according to the “traditional anniversary gifts chart” is leather. I’m sure there are tons of leather-specific, ahem, outfits, then I could buy, but I instead chose to go with something a little bit more… innocent. Instead of spending upwards of 20 hours searching for the perfect wallet, I chose instead to go with…

Homemade beef jerky.

GET IT???  You may commence rolling on the floor in laughter.

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Some of you might be thinking, That’s so lazy! Pick out a real gift, woman. Well, Brad LOVES beef jerky. He is cut of the “let’s go to Sam’s Club and buy 4 pounds of jerky at a time” cloth. I, personally, don’t get it at all. (My brother also likes beef jerky a lot… perhaps it’s a dude thing?) Someone might have to explain to me the merits of dried beef… to me it is the food equivalent of Lindsay Lohan’s next autobiography.

But, in the noble words of Vince Vaughn, “What my baby wants, my baby gets.”

I can’t speak to the deliciousness of the beef jerky in question, but B ate 4 pieces in the first 2 minutes. He specifically said that this beef jerky tasted “more beefy,” and “less like preservatives.” So apparently it was yummy? You let me know.

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Homemade Beef Jerky

Adapted from Jam It, Pickle It, Cure It!
Makes 1 pound

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I really liked this method because it was very simple, compared to some methods I’ve seen for drying beef jerky. The original recipe used top sirloin or flank steak, which are both great alternatives, but definitely more pricey. My butcher makes beef jerky all the time, and he said he uses top round because it tastes just as good or better, and is less pricey.

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Gather:
1 pound lean top round beef (see note below)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Canola oil or vegetable oil

NOTE: If you want to slice the beef yourself, let it sit in the freezer for an hour to firm up, which will make it easier to slice. Remove all fat from the meat. (Fat will go rancid much quicker than the meat part of the jerky.) Slice into 1/4 inch slices, and make sure the slices go against the grain. If you’re not sure how to tell which way the grain is going, watch this video. Alternatively, you can always ask your butcher to cut your steak for you (don’t forget to ask him to cut against the grain, and remove all fat.)

Prepare:
Lay the meat between layers of paper towels and press down to remove any surface moisture from the meat. Then lay the meat in one layer onto a cutting board. Cover with plastic wrap, and pound the meat using a tool of your choosing: a meat tenderizer, a hammer from your toolbox, a sturdy frying pan, or even a ramekin, like I used. Pound the meat until all slices are of an even thickness, around 1/8 inch thick.

In a bowl, mix the salt, soy sauce, sugar, crushed red pepper, and black pepper. Add the beef slices and toss to coat.

Place a cooling rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Wet a paper towel with a bit of canola oil, and lightly run the paper towel (oiled side down) over the cooling rack. (The oil will help prevent the meat from sticking later, so look for a light sheen on the rack.) Lay the meat onto the cooling rack, in a single layer, making sure no pieces of meat touch. Refrigerate, uncovered, for 24 hours. (The dry air of the fridge will help the marinade to stick, and also kick start the drying process.)

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Fahrenheit. If your oven has a minimum temperature of 170 degrees (like mine, stupid oven), set the temperature to its lowest temperature and prop the door open with a wooden spoon. Dry the meat for 3 to 5 hours in the oven. Begin checking at 3 hours. The meat should not be brittle, but instead should tear into strips. It should be dark brown and the meat should not look raw inside.

Store in a glass jar or plastic bag in the fridge, up to 6 weeks.

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B -

Happy third. I think we lucked out.

xo

C

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Van Morrison / Beside You

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6 thoughts on “Homemade Beef Jerky

  1. Um. That picture is adorable :) I aso don’t get the beef jerky thing. Randy LOVES it. I may actually try making some to send on deployment with him. As always…you inspire me!!

  2. 1. Beef leather. Makes perfect sense to me.

    2. You think it’s lazy to slice, season and cook beef for 5 hours, instead of spending 10 minutes on the Internet picking out a wallet he’ll return anyway? Maybe you could come to my house and lazily clean the bathroom. (Or the kitchen. Or the garage. Or….)

    3. Lindsay Lohan has a first autobiographY? I think I just died a little inside.

    4. Happy Anniversary!!

    • Hahahaha good point, Kaela. I resolve to feel less guilty about this decision.

      As far as LaLohan’s published books are concerned, I guess I don’t exactly know if she has an autobiography yet. I did hear that she was planning on writing a book about her life from the past few months. The scary part is that I know part of the population will buy it, which means she will actually have sales, which might encourage her. Which makes me want to barf.

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  4. Homemade gifts are *always* the best option, IMO. My hubs & my 1st anniversary is this Sunday; we are planning an equally exciting trip to the farmer’s market and maybe a picnic. If it ever stops raining, that is. It might be movies, popcorn & champagne on the couch!

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