Fall is here, which means we need to be making sure we have ample freezer space as we move into the hunting season. I’ve been making a solid effort to work through all the venison and elk in my freezer by trying out different recipes, and jerky is something that I love making for the upcoming fall hunting and fishing trips.
The beauty is that you can make large batches of jerky and then enjoy it over time. It’s a great snack to pack with you on a hike or into the tree for an evening sit. The other thing I enjoy about making jerky is that you can test out different recipes in the same session and see which flavor combinations you and your buddies like best. It’s easy to do in your home, and a great way to share the harvest with your friends.
Below is a recipe that I recently tried that is one of my favorites so far. First thing’s first, go ahead and grab yourself a nice chilled beverage out of the fridge. I enjoyed an ice cold Porter with this recipe, and it was the perfect cruising speed for this afternoon jerky making session.
- 3 lbs of venison or elk meat
- ⅔ cup of soy sauce
- ⅓ cup of lime juice
- ⅓ cup of vinegar
- 2 tablespoons of red chili flakes (or depending on how spicy you want it)
- 1 tablespoon of garlic powder
How to prepare
There’s a lot of chatter out there on whether to cut the jerky strips across the grain of the meat or with the grain. Most of what I have found is that it’s best to cut the meat against the grain. This is a great thing to test though and find out what you prefer. For this first batch, I recommend slicing the meat across the grain about ¼ in thick. A trick for making it easier to slice the meat is to only partially thaw the meat before you begin cutting. With the meat still a bit frozen, it makes it much easier to cut the perfect strips for the soon to be jerky.
Slicing jerky across the grain will result in pieces being easier to chew. Likewise, slicing with the grain will result in chewier pieces. Slicing at a 45° angle provides a good medium. The choice is yours.
Once you have all your jerky strips cut, it’s time to prepare the marinade to soak your venison in. This bath of deliciousness is going to put you right into big time flavor country. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, lime juice, vinegar, garlic powder and chili flakes. Once that’s all been mixed up, pour the marinade into a gallon zip lock bag and then add your meat to the bag. Let the meat sit in the marinade refrigerated for at least 24 hours.
Once the meat has spent a least a day basking in the marinade, it’s time to pull the racks out of your oven so that you can lay the strips of meat across them. I like to use cooling racks on top of the oven racks to give the strips more support. The one thing you need to watch out for is that you might lose a few pieces of meat to the bottom of your oven if the spaces are too big on your oven racks.
Be sure to place a piece of foil or drip pan below the jerky so the marinade does not drip onto your oven.
Turn your oven to the lowest setting possible. My oven goes as low as 170 degrees, which runs even a bit hot. To compensate for this, you can crack open your oven a bit so that it runs even cooler. Cooking time varies on oven temp and your general preference on texture, but you can expect to have the meat in the oven for a minimum of 3 hours.
Couple of hours of work each day, a few beers later and you’ll have yourself a fine batch of venison jerky. For information on how to cook this jerky recipe using a smoker or dehydrator check out these alternate cooking options.