Monday, January 2, 2017

Table Fan Beef Jerky

"So I saw this video on YouTube..."  

So many of our conversations start this way.  Sometimes, we've stumbled upon the weird, dark, someone-must've-made-this-video-way-too-late-at-night stuff.  Other times, we find things that are really interesting or helpful.  This time, Dave had somehow found a video of a guy who made beef jerky with nothing more than a fan and some drying racks.

You've gotta be kidding me.  There's no way that's sanitary.  Doesn't the beef jerky need to be heated a little?  What do you mean it's not cooked at all?  Huh...I guess I never realized it was literally just meat with the water content removed.  😟😧

After questioning him and gaining a new understanding about jerky, I agreed to try it out with him.

Dave had me look up a marinade (I used this one that I found on Pinterest) and I went to buy the supplies.  

I went to our local Wegman's (seriously, best. supermarket. EVER.), and found a nice 4.5 lb slab of top round roast.

While going to find the Liquid Smoke needed for the recipe, I spent a good 10 minutes walking up and down the aisle, wracking my brain and finally googling where the stuff might be found (definitely in the aisle I was currently patrolling), and eventually found what I was looking for.  

On the top shelf.  

In the back.  

Surrounded by a million other glass jars that could easily be shattered all over the floor.

Now let met tell you;  I'm only 5'3".  I have spent my fair share of time scaling shelves to try and reach things that were placed too high for vertically challenged people such as myself.  I took a quick glance around, and with only two other shoppers and a small little boy at the end of the aisle, I rolled up my sleeves and tried to get a good step up on the bottom shelf.  Gripping with my fingertips, I reached blindly for the back of the top shelf, hoping to feel the bottle graze my fingertips.  

No luck.

I could feel the bottles at the front of the shelf tipping and clinking against each other.  Not wanting to create an epic disaster in the sauce aisle, I conceded defeat and stepped down from the bottom shelf.

I heard the little boy behind me giggle.

I turned to his mom, who was clearly a few inches taller than me (isn't everyone?), and asked if she could reach it.  She reached up and grabbed the bottle like it was nothing.  I thanked her and told her I wished I was a bit taller.

As I was walking away, the mom was muttering to herself about what she was looking for.  A little louder, she said, "Oh, there it is...down by where the short people would look."  She glanced at me, realizing that she had said it out loud, and sheepishly said sorry.  I laughed and told her it was not a problem.  I left the store still laughing about it.

Now, back to the original point of this post:  Beef Jerky.

When I got home, Dave cut up the meat while I mixed the marinade.  I had to double the recipe since we had so much meat.  

We let the meat sit in the marinade for a few hours, before transferring the beef to the wire racks.
Recently, we had updated the addition room on our house.  We've been using it as much as we can.  It's great, because it has two french doors--perfect to close to keep the fur babies from getting into things.  

We set up the wire racks over baking trays lined with aluminum foil, and put the meat in a single layer.  Dave explained as long as the air is able to circulate above and below the racks, we'd be all set.  Since I only had two racks, we had to do two batches.  SO.  MUCH.  MEAT.  
This is only the first batch.  The racks were full of delicious smelling meat!

Dave turned on a small fan.  The heat in that room was already around 72 degrees.  

"Now what?"  I asked him.

"Now, we wait for the meat to dry out."

"That's it?" 

"That's it." 

We let the meat sit overnight with the fan on it, and let me tell you how AMAZING the space smelled in the morning.  
We started moving the jerky off the racks in the morning.  By the time I got to taking this picture, we had already eaten our share, along with packaged some up to share with family and friends.
The jerky was perfect--peppery, chewy (but not so tough that it felt like you might lose a tooth from biting it), and absolutely delicious.  

Is there a way to take an attractive picture of dried meat snacks?  While these all look awkward, please believe me that this jerky is!

Another plus?  It was super cost-effective!!  Normally, Dave buys the little bags of jerky that have like 2oz of meat in them.  They usually run $5.99 and up.  By making it ourselves overnight, we ended up with way more than that!  The first batch alone yielded 18.5oz of insanely delicious and addicting jerky.  

We are going to start making our own jerky regularly.  We have already talked about different flavors that we've seen--teriyaki, barbecue, and even Hawaiian.  I'll be sure to keep you updated on how the other flavors turn out!

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