Is there anything better than beef jerky? It’s a delicious treat, it’s a great road-trip snack, AND I’ve learned that it is a great way to convince your picky eating kids to get some protein.
There’s even a better trick to this recipe than you may know. Our jerky is made with GROUND beef and it still looks and tastes just like any other pre-made jerky you’ve come across. How easy is that!? Just regular old ground beef from your grocery store – nothing special, just make sure to get a lean cut – 90% lean or better. There’s no trying to marinade raw meat or slicing up thin strips of raw meat. In my opinion, that makes this recipe for beef jerky a thousand times more user-friendly than almost any other recipe!
We make our jerky with our dehydrator, it’s actually called the “JerkyXpress” – though we also use it to make our fruit leathers and dehydrated fruit as well.
First, a note on curing salt.
Curing salt is 93.75% table salt and 6.25% sodium nitrate. The sodium nitrate is very diluted – too much of it IS dangerous. Curing salt is dyed pink so you don’t accidentally confuse it with regular table salt. The purpose of the sodium nitrate is to kill bacteria in uncooked, cured meat – specifically the kinds of bacteria that can cause botulism. I will not make my jerky without it. One quarter teaspoon per pound is the FDA regulated amount. Do NOT go over this amount, measure carefully. We ordered ours from an online retailer after having a hard time finding it sold in local stores. This is what our curing salt looks like:
1 lb Ground Beef – 90% lean or better
4 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce (I really recommend Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce)
1 TBSP A1 Sauce
1/2 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper
3/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Onion Powder
3/4 tsp Table Salt
1/4 tsp Curing Salt
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (more or less depending your taste, 1/2tsp is a little spicy, but not overwhelming)
First thing you need to do is to pour the Worcestershire and A1 into a small saucepan and mix to combine. Heat the mixture to below a simmer and allow to reduce approximately 80%, around 20 minutes, stirring very frequently. (Make sure to reduce fully or your jerky will turn out brittle.) Do not allow the sauce to burn to the bottom of the pan.
Next you need to mix the reduced sauce will all the remaining spices into a large bowl and stir together well. Then add the ground beef into the sauce/seasoning mix bowl. Get in there with your hands and mix the meat and the sauce together very well. Mix a few minutes past when you think you’re done mixing. The more mixing, the better, it will extrude easier.
Start piping some of the meat mixture into your extruder gun, you can see our gun in the picture above. Try not to allow any air bubbles to get in the works and mess up your jerky strips. Begin extruding approximately 6 inch strips onto the dehydrator grate trays. Allow a small amount of space in between the sticks. Do this until all the beef mixture is used up.
If the jerky strips are coming out in bits and spurts it means one of two things. Either your ground beef was too red and bloody (and extra moist), or that you did not reduce your sauce down far enough. The jerky should come out of the extruder gun easily. There’s not much you can do to fix the meat at this point so if it’s coming out poorly, just do the best you can with it.
We dehydrate for 7-8 hours, rotating the trays every 2 hours, and checking for done-ness along the way. The time will vary depending on the temperature of your dehydrator. Our JerkyExpress only has an on and off setting, no actual temperature setting, but it runs at around 150 degrees. The jerky will feel slightly stiff when done. We like to allow the jerky about a day in the fridge before eating so the texture can firm up properly. Then you can store in the fridge or in a closed container in the pantry for 3-4 weeks, although most likely you’ll have eaten it all long before then. If you plan to store the jerky in the fridge, allow some time for it to warm up before eating, as it tastes much better warm than it does cold.
That’s it, how hard was that? I hope you like it! Enjoy!