This instructable is going to show you a way of making great jerky. Nothing really new, unless you consider my marinade new. It is my own concoction, but after searching the net, I find it's very similar to many other's recipes. Yes; I realize there are other Jerky Instructables already. What makes this one different? It is going to show you is how to make it correctly and safely. You're free (and expected) to deviate to some degree. I do strongly recommend that you stick with the safety precautions and temperatures.
I have made this jerky using Las Vegas' summer sun by just hanging the meat on a cloths-line, but this requires a day that starts out over 90°F (30°C) and reaches above 130° (55°C) during the day. Basically a day that's too hot for the flies to come out. This process takes about 8-12 hours in the 100°+ sun, so is only viable in select areas of the country and on specific days. I will make comments about this process throughout the Instructable.
For my birthday, last week, my wife gave me a great commercial dehydrator. While I could build another Alton Brown jig, the dehydrator has the added feature of heating the meat to 160° (71°C) eliminating any nasty bacteria risk and a lot simpler cleanup! It also will work here in Nevada, Minnesota, Saskatewan, or anywhere else one might be, any time of the year!
This is still home-made jerky. It's not important how the drying is done as long as it's done correctly and safely. What is important is the preparation of the meat, killing those bugs, drying it sufficiently and enjoying the best jerky you've ever had.
Step 1: The Meat
First and foremost is the choice of the meat used. Go to your butcher and ask for the leanest hunk of beef they have. Unlike looking for a great steak, were looking for the least fat / ribboning possible. This will normally take the form of a rump roast, london broil or a brisket.
There are other meats you could use such as venison, lamb (mutton?), buffalo (yes you can buy it legally in some parts of the country) or just about any game meat. I would avoid pork. Pork is much more suitable for sausages... Poultry, such as turkey or chicken are fine as long as your process of dehydration heats to 160°F (71°C) or you cook the jerky afterward in the oven for at least 30 minutes at 160°F (71°C). Any wild game should be frozen sub-zero (below -16°C) for about 6 weeks to be sure that any possible diseases the animal had are gone. Fish? Sure. Why not. But I'd change the marinade quite a bit.
Last week, the local grocery had sirloin steak on sale. It fell under the above qualifications. Not worth grilling since the dogs would end up with most of it, but the one I did buy made great jerky. This week, I went to purchase some more. Unfortunately, that ultra-tough sirloin wasn't available. This time they had a wonderful boneless rump roast, almost devoid of ribboning or fat. I told the butcher I was making jerky and he agreed that it was perfect for that. He even offered to slice it for me! Every butcher in the past has told me the slicer wouldn't go that thin! It's nice to run into a like minded butcher from time to time.
If the butcher can't or won't slice the meat for you, put the meat in the freezer until pressing on it just gives a little. You want it firm, but not solid. Then using a good serrated knife or electric knife, slice it against the grain as thin as practical. I try for about 1/8th inch. If you go the serrated knife route, you may want to cut the initial chunk of meat in half and put the other half back in the freezer until you're ready. This will avoid it thawing to much before you get to it.