Another tool added to my arsenal of self-sufficiency. Just knowing how to do something, even if you don’t need it or do it all the time, is power!
This process takes about 30 hours, start to finish. Twenty-four hours for the meat to soak in the brine and another 6 for the prep and baking.
Making your own cured meats is one of those things for me, and this second in a series of curing meats is a winner. See the post about my own home-cured ham.
Choosing the type of cut of meat is the first step. I use boneless pork loin that is sold as a half, about 6 pounds, or whole, about 12 pounds. These cuts are often sold as cheap as 99 cents a pound, but are list priced at about 3.99 per pound. Buy on sale, use to make cured meats or freeze for later.
The boneless porkloin is a long sausage-shaped cut about 4 inches in diameter. For jerky, you will be cutting WITH the grain to create that chewy, not tender, texture. Begin by cutting the strip of meat into roast-sized pieces about 4-5 inches long. You will be making strips about this length. Determine the ‘grain.’ of the roast-sized piece. It is the OPPOSITE of the direction that you would cut if you were making boneless pork chops!
Cut the roast in half with the grain. Then keep cutting into slabs about 1.5 inches thick. Now lay each slab flat and slice strips about 4 in by 1.5 in by 1/4 inch in size. Some fat is acceptable. Try to make uniform sized pieces so they cook up evenly. (Partially freezing the roast-sized pieces may help in this slicing step.)
The brine: (This is just enough for 3-4 pounds of slices.)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 tsp paprika
2 tsp pink salt
1 tbsp Wright’s Liquid Smoke
Dash of pepper flakes
Mix it all up first in a large stainless steel bowl, then add the meat strips turning to get some of the liquid on all the meat surfaces. Make sure to choose a bowl that is large enough to make the turning process easy. Weight down the meat with a small plate, pressing it down. Top the big bowl with another larger plate. Place in refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours, turning the meat strips a number of times, getting the strips all in contact with the liquid.
Make up your cooking sheets next. I use cookie sheets, lined with cheap foil, topped with stainless steel cooling racks, which themselves are topped with parchment paper. You can skip the foil and paper, but this makes cleanup WAY easier. (‘Dollar Store’ grade foil and parchment is fine for this.)
Dump the strips from the bowl into a large colander, allowing to drain into the sink. Arrange the strips on the paper covered racks, spacing so none are overlapping, but as close together as you can. See photo at left. They will shrink by about half in the cooking process.
Pre-heat oven to 350. Place pans in oven for 15 minutes, turn oven down to 200, bake for another 4 to 5 hours. Strips that are done are very dark brown and very chewy, not tender. Your ‘Quality Control Engineers’ around the house will be happy to make this determination!
Some of the slices will be done before the others. In the final hour you will be checking and removing the done ones every 20 minutes.
Jerky properly dried out like this will last 2 to 3 months, in a cool place, unrefrigerated. But to be safe, just freeze it in sealed containers and take some out as you need to. Since this meat does contain some fat and no sodium nitrite is used in the process, freeze to be safe.
’til next time,
Highland Garden House B & B
501 E. Highland Ave.
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
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