Over the last few years, I have made quite a few batches of beef jerky using one of my smokers. While
every batch has turned out great, I have friends that swear by their jerky made in the oven. With the NFL Draft coming up, I thought it was a perfect time for a Beef Jerky Battle Royal. Which Jerky will come out on top? Here's a hint: SMOKE EM' IF YA GOT EM!!
I went by my local Sam's Club and picked up 10 lbs of bottom round already sliced. Next time, I will ask for whole roast and slice my own. This way I can cut it the way I want. It's easier to slice if the meat is semi frozen, so I placed them in the freezer for about an hour. I need to "Bite the Bullet" and purchase a meat slicer, but will have to slice this one by hand.
|Ready to Slice|
It's very important to trim the fat as much as possible on meat when making jerky. The fat becomes chewy and rancid after awhile and will ruin a great piece of meat. Trim off as much fat as possible and slice into 1/8 inch strips. I have heard guys say to "cut across the grain" and I have also been told to "cut with the grain". I have found no difference in the 2 methods and just sliced so that I can get some nice long strips of meat.
|Fit and Trimmed|
Once it's sliced up, it's time to add the jerky seasoning. I have found some great jerky seasoning's over the years and decided to try a new one this time around. The Pendery's spices have never disappointed.
Sprinkled the meat with the seasoning and added a little HEAT.
Once the meat is seasoned, we start the waiting game. I usually let it go for 24-48 hours. I prefer 48 hours, but also have a problem waiting sometimes. I waited a week when making CDN Bacon, so I guess I can wait a measly 48 hours. :)
|Mini Meat Locker|
Once the longest 48 hours ever are over, it's time to cook. If you are using the oven, place some foil on the bottom rack to catch any drippings. I hung the meat by some toothpicks so that they would hang for better drying The key here is to dry out the meat, not cook it. I set the oven to 175 degrees and let it go for about 3 hours. Another very important thing to remember is keeping the oven door cracked open to let the moisture escape. I placed a small wooden spoon in between the door and the oven to create a small opening. This is a MUST!!!
After 2.5 hours, we are getting close. It's up to you on how far to take this step. I like my jerky to have some bite to it and not be super dry. This is what it looked like after 2.5 hours.
While the oven was doing it's job, I fired up the smoker. I went with my WSM for this job. Can never go wrong with the 22.5 WSM. It's my favorite smoker.
|175 to 200 is perfect|
Anywhere between 175 and 200 degrees works for me. Some friends prefer the 160 range but I am not that picky. As long as it's smoking and not cooking the meat, I am happy. I added a chunk of hickory and let it go.
The smoking process with take about 3 hours to finish. The color of the meat will be a bit darker because of the smoke. The smoke will also add some pinkness to the interior of the meat. This is called the SMOKE RING.
|Thin Blue Smoke|
After about 1 hour, the meat will start to look darker and dryer. This is a good thing!
After about 2 hours, the edges start to get some crispiness. Your mouth should should be watering by this point. Mine was.
At the 3 hour mark, the jerky is done. I love mine with a little bit of tenderness still in it. If you like yours a little dryer, keep it on for another hour.
The final product looks like this. After a few hours in the fridge or in a food saver bag, the smokey flavor gets even better. Trust me on this.
Both of these batches turned out good, but the "SMOKER" jerky was a notch above and is my favorite. The smoke flavor adds that little extra that I prefer. It also passes the eye test. The oils that came out near the end add a nice touch. This is the way to do jerky if you have a smoker. If not, the oven will work nearly as well. This round goes to the "SMOKER"