My Original Jerky Blend
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1/2 tbsp. black pepper
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced (or 1 tbsp. garlic powder)
- 1/4 c. soy sauce
- 1/4 c. Worcestershire
- 1/4 c. water
- 1/8 c. white or cider vinegar
- 1/2 c. of Tabasco sauce
- 2 tsp. liquid smoke
- 1 tbsp. sorghum molasses
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 3 lbs. venison, cut into 1/4" thick strips
I prefer to use the hindquarters for jerky. Sometimes I'll toss in a few of the larger pieces from the shoulder. You could use the tenderloin too, but in this house that is considered a sacrilege.
I am very particular to say the least and I will remove all large sections of the tough muscle casing (silverskin) because it aggravates me to no end to bite into a piece of jerky that I cannot chew. You can cut your strips with the grain of the muscle if you like or if you want it just a little easier to chew you can cut against the grain like you would for a steak. Try to keep all your pieces about the same thickness (about 1/4") so that they will dry uniformly.
Mix all your ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour over the meat and mix well. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
Take a wire cooling rack and set it on a cookie sheet that has been lined well with foil. Lay out your strips. It's OK if they touch a little, just don't overlap.
Bake in a 200 degree oven for 7-8 hours. Rotate the trays (if you are doing multiple trays of jerky) top to bottom every couple of hours for even drying. Halfway through your drying time, flip the strips over. Alternately, you can use a dehydrator if you have one. My mom just got me one the other day and I am getting ready to try it out.
Either way, check on your jerky every so often until you achieve the perfect dryness. You should be able to bend it, but it should be dry and dark all the way through. If it is too hard to bend or it cracks, you've gone too long and overcooked it. Store at room temperature in Ziploc bags or a container with a tight-fitting lid (assuming it hangs around that long.)
I've done a few variations on the recipe above and it's really fun to experiment and see what kind of blends you can come up with. I have doubled the Tabasco and crushed red pepper for an extra spicy batch which was pretty popular with the guys. Another favorite version was a sort of teriyaki blend where I omitted the Tabasco and red pepper and added in 1/4 c. of onion powder, 1/4 c. packed brown sugar and increased the molasses to 1/8 c. (sorghum is the best, but regular molasses will work too.) Sometimes I will toss in a little steak sauce or horseradish if I have it on hand. Spices like marjoram or rosemary would add a little something special to it too.
Play around with it and have fun. Taste it before you put it on the meat to see if you want to add anything. You'd think that with all those different things mixed in there it would be a mess, but it's really good!
I've got one more deer to butcher and I'll probably be done for now. My dad has been quite the deer slayer this year and sent two extra does our way. I am getting ready to do up some venison summer sausage next. I've been keeping really busy (as you can imagine at this time of year). Oddly enough, I have lots of things to blog about, but I have been really pressed for time. I'll get you caught up here soon! I've got some crafty projects coming your way in the near future.