My basic, time-tested, all-purpose jerky recipe. This recipe also works well if you are planning to smoke the jerky a bit before dehydrating.
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5 pounds of fresh venison, lean beef, elk, caribou, reindeer, pronghorn, turkey, emu, or kangeroo, trim off every bit of visible fat and slice as thin as humanly possible (par-freezing before slicing makes this a lot easier - just freeze until slightly stiff - cutting across the grain makes it easier to bite off a chunk, but your stash of jerky won’t last very long, so cut strips in the same direction as the grain)
+ 5 tsp. sea salt, canning salt or non-iodized table salt (always avoid iodized salt for marinades)
+ 4 tsp. dry ground ginger (fresh ginger is also good, but the taste is much different)
+ 5 Tbsp. brown or dark brown sugar
+ 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (the “freshly ground” part is very important)
+ 1 Tbsp. “SRIRACHA” Thai Hot Chili Sauce (Optional, but adds some complexity and heat.)
+ 5 average size cloves of fresh pressed garlic (or two Tablespoons of the pre-minced)
+ 1 Cup unsweetened pineapple juice
+ 1/2 tsp. dry citric acid (aka “Sour Salt”) or the juice of one or two large juicy Lime(s).
+ 1 1/2 Cups Kikkoman’s Soy Sauce
+ 1/8 cup Coke™
Combine all ingredients, except the meat, in a glass or ceramic mixing bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar and salt are dissolved completely.
Place sliced meat in glass or ceramic dish or bowl and cover with marinade. Turn meat well to insure that all meat is covered with marinade.
Pour the remaining Coke™ slowly over ice and drink in large gulps ending each one with a loud “Aaaahhh!” Calmly ignore the angry glares of any and all bystanders.
Pack tightly and place a layer of plastic wrap directly on surface of meat to reduce exposure to air. Place another layer of plastic wrap over the rim of the bowl or dish and refrigerate for 12 to 18 hours.
Whenever it comes to mind, take the meat out of the refrigerator, stir well and re-cover as before. (Do this 2 or 3 times if you can.)
Marinating in one or two Ziplock freezer bags work just as well for this. Squeeze as much of the air out of the Ziplock bag as possible. Simply massage Ziplock bag once in a while and turn over to make sure that the marinade is getting between all the slices.
After the meat has marinated, place in single layer in the dehydrator making sure that no pieces are folded, twisted or touching. Sprinkle a little fresh cracked pepper or brush some Sriracha sauce directly on some of the meat for a spicier jerky experience!
Optionally, if you have a big enough smoker, place the dehydrator trays in a heavy hickory or apple smoke for about an hour, then place trays in your dehydrator.
Dry until the meat cracks slightly when bent, but not so dry that it snaps! Remove the thinner slices as they dry and hide them from the kids. This is really the trickiest part.