Beef · Canning and Preserving · Smoked

Beef Jerky

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So what did you do over the weekend?

On Sunday, we made jerky.

Well, actually, the process began on Saturday with the purchase of about 3 lbs of beef.  I don't remember what the cut was, but it was boneless and looked tasty.  (It was two approximately one-and-a-half-pound packages, not one three-pound chunk of meat, by the way.)

Anyway, I stuck the meat in the freezer to make it easier to slice, and while it was chilling I made the brine.  I didn't use precise measurements, but here's a rough idea of the recipe:

About half a cup of kosher salt

About half a cup of brown sugar

About two tablespoons of soy sauce

Half a cup or so of red wine

A healthy teaspoon of garlic powder

Around four cups of warm water.  (Warm so as to dissolve the salt and sugar.)

I whisked all that together until the salt and sugar were dissolved, and then took the meat out of the fridge and sliced it in quarter-inch wide strips.

Then I put all the meat in the brine (I think I had to remove some of the brine so it would all fit in the one plastic container I was using), sealed the container, and popped that in the fridge until the next morning.

Early – maybe quarter past six – I took the meat out of the brine and laid it all out on cooling racks to air dry a bit before putting it in the smoker.

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I also removed any excess moisture by patting the meat lightly with some paper towels on both sides.

Then, out to the smoker.

I'd used the smoker earlier in the week to cook some lovely bluefish my dad had caught on a charter trip, so the smoker was still out on the deck, just waiting for something to do.

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I placed as much of the beef on the little grates inside the smoker as I could.  I still ended up with a bit left over – that will go in the smoker today, along with some ribs. 

But back to Sunday.  I plugged the smoker in and closed up the front and put some new hickory chips in the little pan and slid that into the little slot in the bottom of the front panel.

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That was the first round of chips.  In total, I added chips three times, roughly an hour to an hour and a half apart. 

The beef and the first round of chips went in at about 6:45 Sunday morning.

Here's how it was looking three hours later:

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I rotated the racks periodically through the day so they'd all be exposed to the higher heat near the bottom of the smoker…and at…let's see…around 8:00 that night – so a little over 13 hours later – I brought the racks of beef in the house.

I set my oven at its lowest temperature – 170 degrees F – and once the little bell went off to tell me it was at that temperature, I shut the oven off.  I slid the three racks of jerky inside, and let them stay in there overnight to finish drying out.

We did have a taste, though.  And it was very good.

The next morning, I put the remaining jerky (Julia had two or three pieces for breakfast) in a perforated plastic bag where it should be fine for months, but in reality will not last that long.

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