Do you love beef jerky? Of course you do! Who doesn’t love a chewy, salty, smoky piece of dried meat that can last for months without spoiling? Beef jerky is the ultimate snack for anyone who wants a high-protein, low-carb, and highly portable bite of deliciousness. We’ll breakdown what you need to know to make the best tasting beef jerky at home.
You might think that beef jerky is a modern invention, created by some genius food scientist who wanted to make money off the paleo, keto, and Whole 30 craze. But you would be wrong.
Beef jerky has a long and fascinating history that goes back thousands of years. Like some of our favorite cooking techniques (as you have heard us say before) it comes from preserving food with no refrigeration
Jerky’s roots in the Americas
The word “jerky” comes from a Quechua word: “Ch’arki,” which literally means “dry, salted meat.”¹ The Quechua were an indigenous people who lived in the Andes mountains in modern-day Peru.
They invented the earliest version of beef jerky by drying llama meat in the sun during the day and freezing it at night. They also left the bones in, which must have been fun to gnaw on.
When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World, they learned about this method of preserving meat and adapted it to their own tastes. They called it “charqui” and used beef instead of llama. They also introduced spices like pepper, garlic, and oregano to add some flavor.
Jerky during expansion
Beef jerky spread to other parts of the Americas and the immigrating Europeans, where different cultures added their own twists. Cowboys made cowboy jerky, which was smoked over a fire instead of sun-dried.
And in Mexico, they made machaca , which was shredded dried beef that was rehydrated and cooked with eggs and salsa.
Variety and the spices of life
Today, beef jerky is now a global phenomenon. You can find it in different flavors, shapes, and sizes. You can also find it made from different kinds of meat, such as turkey, pork, venison, bison, or even alligator. You can even make your own beef jerky at home with a smoker, dehydrator or an oven.
Making beef jerky
That’s what we are bringing you here, a modern recipe with classic overtones. Sweet and spicy, this is geared toward having a smoker. But you do not need a smoker, a gas grill will do. You can also add a high-quality liquid smoke, and ‘cook’ the jerky in a very low oven, or use a dehydrator.
But no matter how you make it or eat it, beef jerky is still the same ancient snack that never goes out of style. It’s convenient, nutritious, and satisfying. It’s also addictive, so don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Beef Jerky Recipe
- 3 Pound round steak
- 3/4 Cup beef stock
- 3/4 Cup beer IPA
- 1/4 Cup soy sauce
- 1/2 Cup red wine
- 1/2 Cup brown sugar
- 1/4 Cup Worcestershire
- 2 Teaspoons granulated garlic
- 2 Teaspoons onion powder
- 1 Teaspoons cayenne
- ½ Teaspoon MSG
- Trim excess fat off of your meat then slice thin, ¼” or less. Put in a sealable bag.
- Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk together. Pour over the meat and seal.
- Shake and massage bag to sure everything is well coated. Marinate in fridge 12-24 hours
- Preheat smoker to approx. 175 degrees
- Remove the meat from the marinade and blot dry.
- Place the meat on racks in your smoker for 2 hours.
- Check the meat you can tell it is done when you pick up a piece and when you shake it. It shouldn’t bend.
- Rack the meat and cool at room temperature then bag and seal, store in the fridge