Your taste buds are not meant for regular foods only. No matter how healthy or nutritious those are but after a few days, you will be in no mood to take them anymore. Sometimes you want to have foods differently made with new recipes and new flavor and that also are prepared at your home kitchen. One such thing is beef- meat that can be used for preparing different kinds of foods preferred by a number of people around the world for a long time. Beef Jerky is a kind of preparation that man started making a long time ago and still, it continues to make you draw towards it for its unique taste and flavor.
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What is Beef Jerky?
Once there was a time when people to prepare the beef jerky left the long thin strips of beef laid out in the sun for drying. But now you have different kinds of smokers that not only prepare this item easily but also create a great smoky flavor that you cannot get any other way. Moreover, it is lightweight and lasts for a longer time without following any special preservation. Now let’s go and prepare beef jerky using a smoker all but you.
Types of Smokers
Basically, there are two types of smokers and each of them is good for preparing this item. Beef jerky can be prepared in an electric smoker quite easily as it doesn’t need to put on any extra effort. But if you take an offset smoker where you have to use smoking chips, it is going to provide extra smoky flavor and make the beef jerky more delicious.
Selection of Beef
Before starting the whole process you have to make sure that you have using the best cut of beef for this item. Always buy fresh meat with less fat. Probably, the meat should be taken from the rear leg or the outer muscle of the upper rear leg as it is tender enough to make good beef jerky.
Preparation of the Beef
The first thing that you have to do to start the whole process to prepare your cut of beef for jerky. At first, put the meat in a refrigerator at least for an hour before cutting. This will make the cut more solid so that you can get the slices as thin as you need. You have to cut the beef across the grain very lean (1/4” slices) which must be easy to work with. Trim all the fat as it will become unsavory and also increases the drying times. This kind of cut certainly maintains the flavor and the protein level of the meat. And one thing must be noted, to make the beef strips having a knife is not the best solution, you need to have the best meat slicer to make the whole affair convenient.
Adding Flavor to the Meat
Preparing jerky doesn’t mean just drying up the slices of the beef. Apart from having a smoky flavor, you need to add different spice mixtures and also need to marinate your beef with all the required ingredients for 4-8 hours for some extra flavor so that it will be more delicious for you. Besides, if you want to make it simple, then just sprinkle salt and pepper on the meat before smoking.
Smoking the Meat using Offset Smoker
In an offset smoker where smoking chips made of charcoal or hardwood usually generate an excessive amount of fire and smoke. But at the beginning, you need a lower temperature (150°F/65°C) and a little smoke unless you’ll spoil your jerky. Therefore, you have to add smoking chips in small numbers so that you can get the desired result. One thing you should keep in mind that to get a complete dry beef jerky it will take anything between 12-72 hours in a conventional smoker.
Making Beef Jerky in Electric Smoker
Making beef jerky in an electric smoker is probably the easiest way among all possible methods. The most important thing is that here you can control the temperature since the beginning, as per your requirement. Here you need to light the smoker and hang all the beef strips across the metal racks. In this way, you don’t have to flip the strips time and again. During the entire process, you have to maintain the inside temperature between 160°F-200°F. You have to allow the strips inside the smoker for 3-12 hours and you’ll see a change in color of the strips and also find the jerky completely dry which bends and cracks but not breaks in half. This indicates that your beef jerky is ready to taste. Keeping the strips of beef for too long inside the smoker can turn the strips harder and it will be impossible to chew.
The Next Thing to do
When the preparation is done, all the strips of jerky can be taken out of the smoker and are kept in a protected and airlock container to preserve them. But before that, make sure that your jerky is completely cooled and dried. But once opened, the jerky should be eaten within a week or two. Use them as a snack during tea time even you can take them when you’re out for picnic, climbing, or traveling.
Using a smoker for preparing beef jerky has some good things and also some not so good things that should be kept in mind before starting the process.
The Good Things are
- This provides a natural smoky flavor and the liquid smoke is not required here.
- You’ll get the perfect temperature for the process in an electric smoker.
- Not only small strips but it also works for larger pieces of beef and even in some kind of fish too.
- You may add different types of smoky flavor while preparing beef jerky.
Not so Good Things
- It is not easy to control temperature while using an offset smoker.
- Some electric smoker cannot provide enough heat to make good jerky.
- Food dehydrators are rather economic option and here you have less chance to mess things up.
After considering all these things still, I prefer to go with a smoker to prepare beef jerky for the two main factors, flavor and timesaving. What do you think am I right?