The Beef Jerky Making Process
Jerky Beef needs to be cut with the grain. If you slice the meat across the grain as you would when carving a roast, your jerky will crumble and fall apart when cooked. Beef and deer jerky strips should be about 1/4 inch thick and 1 inch wide. Jerky made from poultry needs to be 3/8 inch thick.
Most meat carving knives have a flat sided handle which is 1/4 inch thick on each side of the blade. The handle can act as a guide for cutting the perfect thickness. Lay the meat out flat on the cutting board with the grain running up and down. Lay your knife flat on the cutting board at the bottom of the meat with the edge facing away from you.
Lightly hold the meat in place with one hand and slice the meat while keeping the knife handle flat on the cutting board. Take your time and cut slowly with even strokes. Never cut with your hand in front of the knife. If holding the meat while you cut it seams a little scary, use a coffee cup on top of the meat. Cut all the way through.
Separate the two pieces of meat and repeat the cutting process with the top section if necessary. If the top piece is less than 1/8 inch to thick, do not cut again. If the meat is to thin, it will not cure and cook evenly. Lay the meat out on the board again with the grain running top to bottom. Cut each piece in half and then in half again until you have strips about 1 inch wide. If the strips are very long you should cut them in half across the grain of the meat. The strips need to be short enough so that they will leave a space at least 4 to 5 inches from the bottom of your oven when they are hung for cooking. Try to keep the pieces uniform in size so they cook evenly.
Weigh the meat to determine how much seasoning and cure mix is needed. This is critical. Using to much seasoning and cure mix will rune your jerky. Use no more than the amount recommend on the seasoning package. If you do not have a kitchen scale, member to have the butcher write the weight of the meat on the package when you buy it. If you have any doubt, using a little less is best.
Use a fork to fluff up the seasoning and cure mix. Measure out the correct amount of seasoning and cure mix by filling the measuring spoon and leveling it off with a straight edge. If your recipe calls for additional spices place the mix in to a bowl or small measuring cup and then add the other spices. Any spice combination you wish to try will work. Place the seasoned meat in a large zip lock bag and store in the refrigerator over night. The meat will begin to cure and turn very dark red. The beef jerky is ready !