When You Can’t Buy It, Make It! Beef Jerky Recipe

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A Simple and Delicious Beef Jerky Recipe.

It would seem like a lot of trouble to most people, making beef jerky.  After all, it’s an easy item to find in the local grocery store, or convenience mart in the United States.  Bags from small to large, one pound packs, in every flavor imaginable.  However, here in Peru, it doesn’t exist.  The only dried meat item I’ve found, are small strips of llama and alpaca meat that is heavily salted and must be soaked in water to rid the salt from it, before boiling it.  If it were to exist, it would be called “Carne Seca” in Spanish, meaning dry meat.

Sometimes living in Peru is a challenge when trying to cook, especially at Thanksgiving.  Often times I can’t find specific ingredients for a certain dish I want to make, and have to either leave out the ingredient, or substitute it.  I’m sure there are countless ways to make beef jerky, but this is how I do it:

First I start with either a large roast, or have the butcher slice the meat for me into thin slices.  In Peru, the thin slices are know as bisteck.  If you have a large roast, place it in the freezer for about two hours, just so the block of muscle is firm.  Then slice it into fairly thin slices with the grain of the meat.  The bisteck is across the grain as pictured below.

Thin Bisteck Slices

The next step is to place the strips of meat into a baking dish or bowl, and based on personal taste, a myriad of flavors and seasonings could be chosen, and used to marinate the meat.  Examples could be BBQ or Teriyaki Sauce, Hot Sauce, Seseme Oil, Garlic, A1 Sauce, you name it…

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Today I used a combination of Vinegar,  Whorchestershire Sauce, Coca-Cola, Andean Pink Salt, a touch of sugar and a little water to marinate.  You can mix the ingredients in a separate bowl first and then pour over the meat, covering the top.  Place in the refrigerator for about 8 hours, or overnight is good, but this batch was marinated for nearly 24 hours.  Then remove the strips of meat from the marinade, removing as much excess liquid as possible, and lay the strips on a broiler pan rack.  The meat will probably overlap at first, but it will shrink as it dries in the oven, and can be rearranged.  A paper towel can be used to blot dry the liquid on the meat to help speed the process.

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Turn the oven on to its lowest setting.  This is a slow cook process drying out the meat, and will take about three hours.  I normally flip the meat over during the cooking process.  Once complete, let the jerky cool completely before bagging it.  I put it in zip-lock sandwich bags and store it in the freezer.  If you have a food preserver, that can vacuum seal it, it may not need refrigeration, just like the store brands, which would give you long term food storage that’s already cooked, and ready to enjoy.

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Other methods could include using a smoker, for that mesquite flavor or examples pictured below.

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