This simple, old-fashioned deer jerky recipe is really awesome. You don’t have to have anything fancy – not even a dehydrator!
I love jerky. I mean, who doesn’t, right? And it’s pretty much the biggest reason I look forward to hunting season every year, but the thing is, it’s kind of expensive, and not only that, it’s full of nitrates and nitrites – preservatives. I really do try my hardest to avoid those kinds of things. I’ve even been making my own bacon for years now because of it.
Most jerky recipes feature ground meat – which I love and have used many time for my teriyaki venison jerky recipe. It’s easy to chew, which is always pretty awesome, right? But if you don’t have a meat grinder, or a jerky press, that can kind of put the kibosh on all your fun. That’s where this kind of old school jerky recipe comes in.
Because guess what? You can make deer jerky – or beef jerky for that matter – with real (a.k.a not ground) meat. No jerky press required – just a sharp knife.
I highly recommend using the most tender cuts of beef or deer that you can. Loin is great for larger pieces, as are some of the other choice cuts. Lower quality cuts of meat are still good, though I do recommend cutting those into jerky “tidbits” rather than strips.
Regardless of what cuts you choose, always remember to cut across the grain. As you look at a piece of meat, you will notice that the muscle fibers run in a particular direction. You’ll want to cut across those fibers.Print
Deer Jerky Recipe
- Two pounds of beef or deer roast, steak, or loin
- 1/3 cup soy sauce*
- 2 Tablespoons liquid smoke
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- Dash (or more) of hot sauce, cayenne pepper powder, or Cajun Seasoning. (Optional)
- Cut meat into 3/8 inch thick slices across the grain. Obviously you don’t have to measure every piece – just eyeball it. I tend to err on the thick side as I like my jerky chewy rather than brittle.
- Having a super sharp knife, with a quick sharpener handy really speeds this process up. It’s no fun sitting at the table sawing meat all day. Get your knife sharp and get it done!
- Toss meat with marinade ingredients in a large bowl.
- Cover meat with a plate and weight it down so that the juice cover it. OR, (and this is preferable) put the meat and marinade in a large, zip-top bag. Squeeze all of the air out so that the meat has no choice but to be covered in the juice (what little there is).
- Refrigerate overnight.
In the morning:
Dehydrator: Arrange meat on dehydrator trays Turn heat setting to 150-160 and dehydrate for 6-8 hours.
- Arrange jerky on air bake pans, cookies sheets, or hang over the (clean) oven racks themselves.
- Turn oven on to 150º and place jerky in center of the oven. If you’re using air bake trays, or the oven racks, you might want to place a jelly roll pan or something underneath to catch any stray drips.
- If your oven has a fan-bake setting, use it. The more airflow you can get, the faster your jerky will dry.
- Bake/dehydrate for 8-12 hours or until dry. If using cookie sheets, you’ll need to turn jerky over every few hours.
- Store in an airtight container.
- Enjoy – slowly!
*If you are allergic to gluten, make sure you read your soy sauce label before using it! Believe it or not, soy sauce is often made with wheat. La Choy is widely available and, (last time I checked) gluten-free.
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