This year I decided to buckle down and dial in my jerky game. I’m definitely still working on the “perfect seasoning and flavors” but I have at least developed a process of making it as well as preferred methods. I’ve also managed to not completely mess up any of the batches. To start, I wanted to focus on the basics…. cuts of meat, fabrication of the meat (ground or whole muscle) cooking temperature and cooking time. Those elements are the biggest battle when making jerky in my opinion. If it’s so tough, you can't chew it or if it’s too under cooked then you can't even begin to assess the flavor. During this stage, I decided to just go with a pre-packed seasoning and cure from Hi Mountain. However, I will be beginning to create my own seasoning blends and cures now that I have a process, I’m happy with.
I have used both whole muscle and ground meats and I personally like using ground meat with a jerky gun. This is my first year to do so but I am certainly glad I did! What I have found to be the best is using my ground venison mix with bacon (4:1). I did also try a batch with just ground venison, no bacon. I liked it but it was considerably more tough compared to the jerky made with fat ground in. The batch without fat, I also only ground once through the coarse grind. The batches with the bacon ground in, I grind once through the course with the bacon. Then I run it all through a second time using a finer grind. The fine ground venison with bacon added in is by far my favorite and will be what I use as I develop flavors and seasonings.
The process is quite simple once you have your ground meat ready. I take 2 lbs. of meat and place it in a glass bowl. (Metal bowls can give a metallic after taste if used) I take one packet of Hi Mountain seasoning, 2 tablespoons of Hi Mountain cure and mix in ⅔ cup of warm water until dissolved. I then add 1 ice cube to cool the liquid back down. I do this because it gets the cure and seasoning evenly distributed throughout the liquid so it will mix evenly in the meat. Once mixed and cooled, I pour the mixture in with the meat and thoroughly mix in with my hands. The meat will become sticky and hold shape once mixed all the way through. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Once it’s marinated, I use a jerky gun to make my desired shape and size and then dehydrate at 160*F for roughly 3.5 - 4 hours. Cook time will depend on the size and shape of the jerky you're making as well. Honestly, I think 175f - 200f would work best but my dehydrator will not go that high. Once cooled, I like to store mine in Ziplock bags.
As always, email me at epicchef424@gmail if you have any comments or questions.