Somewhere along the line, consumers decided it was acceptable for manufacturers of cheap, processed meat products to employ the term "jerky" when selling their dried-out goods. But real jerky isn't available next to the gas station cash registers; real jerky – popular in the New World since the height of the Incan Empire – is a gourmet treat. Fortunately, the hand-made stuff is getting easier to find as serious chefs create unique products from high-end ingredients (and sometimes soda).
Here are some of the best jerky recipes for cooks looking to get in on the action. They're hard to find – jerky chefs are protective of their prized recipes – but worth the time. So get the knives, break out your smokers, and pre-heat your oven. The only thing better than cooking a gourmet treat is being able to put it in your pocket before you head out to the bar.
Mark Carter, founder of Carter's Deep Woods-Style Jerky, has been making his 10-day marinated smoked jerky in California's Coachella Valley for 10 years. He normally relies on a beefy London broil, but he's used venison and elk to great success on account of having a lot of hunting friends. And Carter's not opposed to getting creative with additives: "I do want to move my operation to Colorado to legally make the best edible jerky on the planet!" he admits.
For now, Carter's marinade ingredients run the federally-legal gamut from soy and teriyaki and molasses to lime and pineapple juice as well as A-1. Classic eating for a dry heat.
Carter's Deep Woods-style Jerky
- 6 lbs of London broil, cut into 3/16 inch or a little thicker if desired
- 1 cup of A-1 steak sauce
- 1 1/2 cup of teriyaki
- 1 cup of roasted teriyaki
- 1/2 cup of soy sauce
- 1/2 cup of molasses
- 3 oz pineapple juice
- 1 cup of Worcestershire sauce
Blend all the marinade ingredients together. Cut meat 3/16 thick.
Marinade 8-10 days. Drain and then add back a little fresh marinade and let it rest for a night. Drain again in the morning.
Lay on smoker racks for smoking.
Make a "finish" sauce with: 1/2 cup of Lea & Perins steak sauce, 2 tbsp of molasses, the juice of 2 limes, 1/2 tsp crushed garlic, 1 tbsp of brown sugar
Blend and brush on sauce on one side of the meat, then put it back in the smoker with 1 pan of mesquite (can add a little cherry wood)
Makes enough for approx. 3 lbs. Double or triple if you want more.
[Buy it from: Mark Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org)]