Beef Jerky

One of the first recipes I tried when last summer’s testing revealed Nolan to be somewhat anemic was beef jerky. We got a beautifully marbled piece of grassfed steak at the farmer’s market, and I sliced thin before marinating and dehydrating in my brand-new Excalibur dehydrator. For some reason I didn’t photograph it or make a note of the recipe I used, and Nolan seemed kind of indifferent to it: sometimes he would eat it up immediately, sometimes we had to break it down into tiny bite-sized pieces to entice him, and sometimes it just went on the floor. But over the course of a few months, the jerky bag slowly began to empty, and I made sure to document my second batch more accurately!

This time I bought a half-pound of grassfed London broil from Whole Foods, and the butcher was kind enough to slice it thinly for me, so all I had to do at home was cut it into strips with kitchen shears. I used Alton Brown’s jerky marinade recipe, reducing it by 2/3d since I had such a small amount of meat; I also omitted the cayenne and black pepper since this is mostly for my son, and added a teaspoon or so each of garlic powder and smoked salt. The meat marinated for about 4 hours in the refrigerator, then went in the Excalibur at 155F for 4-5 hours. It is pretty strongly flavored and hovering between chewy and crisp, but that suits me and Nolan just fine! (Actually, I have already eaten much more of it than I intended to, since it is supposed to be snack fodder for preschool… but it also makes a good post-workout snack!) I will probably shorten the marinade time slightly on the next batch.

Next up, I’m going to try a ground beef jerky variant just for fun, maybe including some Great Lakes gelatin and beef liver (don’t tell my family!) for additional health benefits. I’ve already done salmon jerky with mixed results, and would also like to try chicken and even coconut jerky (yes, you read that right!). My dad has suggested we try venison, elk, or buffalo jerky, and I have even been contemplating pemmican recipes. Might be interesting to try a marinade that incorporates orange juice or marmalade, since vitamin C aids iron absorption!

If we polish off our already dwindling supply of beef jerky before I have a chance to make more, it’s nice to know that Nolan has developed an appreciation for a similar beef product: believe it or not, this is uncured beef bacon from Wellshire Farms. It doesn’t get crispy like old fashioned pork bacon, but Nolan seems not to mind the chewy texture, so it is a nice alternative to the usual when we’re trying to get a little extra red meat on his menu.

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