I was out in the mountains with others a few years ago and was given a piece of jerky that was delicious and had an amazing texture that was different from store-bought jerky. I asked about it and learned that is was made from hamburger! Since then I Iearned to make jerky from hamburger and am happy to share my customized recipe. Teriyaki Turkey Jerky is a great tasting snack that is easy to make at home using an oven and baking pans. You will be able to enjoy homemade jerky at a fraction of the cost of store-bought jerky and keep your teeth intact as well since the jerky is dry but not rock hard.
Step 1: Jerky
Jerky in one form or another has been enjoyed by people all over the world for a very long time and is a way to preserve meat with minimal energy expenditure. It is a favorite snack for many and is great for road and backpacking trips. This recipe is easy because rather than slicing meat into thin pieces, we use ground meat that is pressed or rolled into thin pieces. Anyone can make this recipe at home with just an oven and a few baking pans.
Step 2: Equipment
All the equipment needed to make ground turkey jerky can be found at home or inexpensively purchased at a thrift store. A dehydrator is not needed but certainly can be used instead of an oven.
As seen in the photos, I use a combination of pans, trays and racks to make jerky in the oven. The idea is to have a flat slotted tray or rack to place the ground meat on with a pan underneath to catch meat juices as the jerky bakes. I use a combination of large and small pans and trays to fill my oven because I want to get the maximum amount of jerky with each baking.
Step 3: Ingredients
The ingredients listed here are for a recipe that uses 1 pound (.45 kg) of ground turkey. This recipe can be adjusted to make the amount of jerky that you want. It takes 7-8 hours to bake the jerky, so it makes sense to make as much jerky as your oven will hold. Start with this recipe as is and if you like the jerky go ahead and adjust the recipe to make more jerky at another time. I adjusted the recipe to use 5 pounds (2.3 kg) of ground turkey which yielded about 2 pounds (.91 kg) of jerky. To bake this larger amount at one time I needed 3 oven racks filled with pans and trays.
The only ingredient that is not commonly found at the grocery store, but easily purchased online, is Curing Salt #1(shown in photo). Curing Salt #1 is used to kill any harmful bacteria that might be present in the ground meat. It must be used carefully as too much curing salt can be harmful. The instructions on my package of Curing Salt #1 state that slightly less than 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) should be used for 1 pound (.45 kg) of meat.
Many recommend choosing the leanest ground meat possible for making jerky, one of the reasons being that the jerky will last in storage longer before becoming rancid. I just use regular ground turkey as it is less expensive. The jerky tastes so good that it is eaten rather quickly so it never has a chance to get rancid :)! For trips, I make jerky just before I leave, so I don't really have the problem with jerky becoming rancid. I once forgot a package of jerky in the freezer and a year later I discovered it and found that it was not rancid at all and tasted just fine. The leanest ground turkey is best, but you decide on what you want to use.
Ground turkey: 1 pound (.45 kg)
Sea salt: 3/4 teaspoon (3.75 ml)
Curing salt #1: slightly less than 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml)
Ground black pepper: 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml)
Onion powder: 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
Ginger powder: 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml)
Soy sauce: 2 tablespoons (30 ml)
Worcester sauce: 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
Liquid smoke: 2 tablespoons (30 ml)
Teriyaki sauce: 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
Ketchup: 1 tablespoon (15 ml)
This recipe is customized to my family's tastes but you may want to consider other ingredients such as garlic powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, mustard powder, ground cumin or Tabasco sauce. For dry spices, depending on the strength of the spice and your personal tastes, use 1/4 to 1 teaspoon (1.25 ml to 5ml). For liquid spices, again depending on the strength of the spice and personal tastes, use 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 ml to 30 ml).
In a large bowl add dry ingredients and with a spoon, mix well. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well. Be sure to mash all of the many lumps that form with the addition of the liquid ingredients. Lastly, add the ground turkey and mix well as you will want the spices to be evenly distributed throughout the meat. Some like to get in there and use their clean hands to mix everything together faster. I take my time and use a large strong spoon to mix everything together.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or leave overnight for the flavors to blend well.
Step 4: Baking
Assemble your baking pans so that you have a rack or slotted tray (Photo 1) on top of the bottom pan (Photo 2). This arrangement allows the hot air to circulate above and below the sheet of ground meat. The lower pan catches all of the meat drippings while the meat cooks, keeping the oven cleaner and making overall clean up easier.
Cut parchment paper to the size of your tray or rack (Photo 3) and then assemble the pans as shown in Photo 4. The parchment paper also known as baking paper will not burn in the oven because the oven will be set to low temperatures.
Place the parchment paper on the kitchen counter or table and spoon the ground turkey mixture on to the parchment paper. Use a spatula to spread the ground turkey mixture forming one large sheet on the parchment paper aiming for a thickness of 1/4 inch (6 mm). Spread it out all the way to the edge of the parchment paper as it will shrink dramatically during baking.
A jerky gun could also be used to squeeze out the ground turkey mixture into thin strips. I have never used one and don't see the need for it, when using an oven because this method is easy enough as it is.
Hold the baking tray or rack next to the edge of the counter at the same height as the counter top and slide the parchment paper and ground turkey sheet on to the baking tray, then place on top of the baking pan. This method ensures an even thickness of the ground turkey sheet.
Set the oven temperature to 200° Fahrenheit (93° Celsius ) and place the baking pans in the oven along with an oven thermometer to keep track of the oven temperature (Photo 5). Crack the oven door just a little during baking to let the steam escape. Keep it open with a moist towel inserted between the oven door and the oven. My electric oven has a vent in the top so I can keep my oven door closed completely.
Bake for 2 hours with the temperature at 200° Fahrenheit (93° Celsius) then take the baking pans out and, using a spatula to lift the meat, carefully remove the parchment paper by sliding it out from under the meat. Return the baking pans to the oven and rotate them so that pans from the upper oven rack exchange place with pans on the lower oven rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 120° Fahrenheit (49° Celsius) and continue baking.
After another 2 hours take the baking pans out of the oven and with a spatula and your hands, carefully flip the ground turkey sheets over, just like you would do for pancakes. Using kitchen shears, carefully cut the ground turkey sheets into strips as shown in Photo 6 and return to the oven, once again rotating the baking pans in the oven.
After another 2.5 hours, check to see if the jerky is done. Take a piece and fold it in half. It should crack at the fold when done but not snap in half. If the jerkey snaps in half then it is overdone and should be removed from the oven immediately. The jerky is usually done after 7 hours, but it depends on how thick you spread the ground turkey mixture and your oven temperature. If you spread it thin, it will be done sooner. If spread thickly then it will take longer to bake it.
Once the jerky is done, cut it into the size of pieces that you want and let it cool. Store the jerky in the refrigerator for immediate use or place in sealable plastic bags in the freezer for long term storage.
Step 5: Enjoy!
Now that you have patiently waited 7 hours, all the while breathing in that wonderful aroma, it is time to enjoy your homemade jerky! One piece will lead to another...it's okay, you've earned it!