Jerky is a great snack to have around. It stores well, makes little mess, and packs a lot of flavor.
Chicken is quickly becoming my new favorite thing to make into jerky. Here ill explain the steps required and share my basic recipe that i use. I find that chicken takes less time to marinate and is healthier for you than red meat. The only potential problem with chicken jerky is that it MUST be cooked to the right temperature to avoid risk of salmonella and other food borne bacterias. I wouldnt suggest using a dehydrator without a temperature setting because you have no way of making sure the chicken is cooked safely.
Step 1: Equipment Needed
Ok so the main thing we need is chicken. I buy whatever chicken breast i can find on sale. You want to get something thats not too fatty, and the whole breast is usually cheaper than the pre-cut pieces they sell. My dehydrator can handle 3 large breasts or 4 medium ones.
You will also need:
1 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbs of lemon juice
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 Tbs red pepper
1 tsp black pepper
This time i added some splashes of liquid smoke to the mix and a dash of ginger to try it out. You can add or subtract ingredients as you like until you find a mix you like best. If you dont like soy sauce however, you need to add something for the salt content. Jerky can store for a while due to its low moisture, high sodium content. Salt inhibits bacteria growth and is a staple for jerky recipes.
Step 2: Trim Your Chicken
Take your chicken breast and trim all the fat you can off if it. Fat spoils quickly, and the lower the fat content the longer your jerky can store.
Once its all trimmed up, cut the chicken into strips about 1/4 or smaller. You can put the chicken in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before cutting to help firm up the chicken and make it easier to cut the pieces into consistent size.
Use a very sharp knife to make cutting easier. I have a ceramic knife that cuts through things like a hot knife through butter. If you get a ceramic knife just be careful because they are more delicate and will take your fingers off much more easily.
Step 3: Mix and Marinate
Once your chicken is cut, put it in a freezer bag, and dump in your ingredients. I prefer freezer bags because you can squeeze out the air and work the chicken around the bag so its all covered and mixed. If you dont have freezer bags you can use a bowl and just mix it around frequently. I let my chicken marinate for 30-60 minutes.
Step 4: Set Up Your Dehydrator
I have a Nesco american harvest dehydrator with variable temperature settings. Arrange your chicken strips on the dehydrator trays so theres a little bit of space between the pieces. Overlapping pieces will not dry properly and slow the drying time. Set the temperature to at least 160 and put it some place it wont be in the way. The chicken jerky should be dry in 5-8 hours depending on thickness. Mines usually done in about 6 hours, and i let any large pieces sit for an extra hour.
If you dont have a dehydrator you can use your oven as well. I used to use the oven before i got my dehydrator and it works just as well, but takes longer. You line the bottom of the oven with tin foil to catch the drippings. Then you can put the chicken on a wire rack so there is space for air to circulate. Set the oven to 200 and prop the oven door open a little with a wooden spoon or other similar non-meltable utensil. If you have a small fan you can aim it into the oven to help move the air around.
Step 5: Store and Enjoy
I like my jerky a little more crispy than most people. when i can bend it and it starts to peel or crack i take it off the dehydrator. If you want it less dry, you can take it off once it is firm but still flexible. If you have it in an oven, every hour or so you may have to pat the moisture off the pieces to help it dry quicker.
Once its done, try not to eat it all at once. Its really good warm. Let it cool to room temperature before packing it into bags or jars. If you pack it up hot, moisture can form inside the container and shorten the shelf life. The jerky can store for about 2 weeks at room temperature, and about a month in the refrigerator. If theres any doubt about it being cooked to the right temperature store it in the freezer to prevent it from spoiling.
Thanks for checking out my first instructable. Let me know if anything should be fixed up for it.