Coming on the back of recent growth in Great British Charcuterie, Jerky is one of 2015's big food trends.
But what to do when you need a fix and can't get to the market? Making Jerky at home is easier than you think, and is one of the most satisfying things in the world.
The key things you need for success are some great ingredients, an oven thermometer, a very sharp knife, a box of cocktail sticks and a little bit of patience.
1 kg good thick (at least 3/4 inch thick) beef steak - rump will do, but I prefer bavette for the extra flavour
200ml Teryaki marinade
30ml Dark Soy sauce
30ml Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon Stubbs mesquite liquid smoke (optional - find it on Amazon)
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 a good beef stock cube (Kallo is my favourite brand), dissolved in a tablespoon of boiling water
Using a very sharp chef's knife, trim off and discard any excess fat from your steak so you are left with a good lean piece of meat. If your steak is very thick then cut it in half with your knife parallel to the cutting board, so you are left with slabs of meat which are roughly 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Then cut each piece of meat into strips approx 5-7mm thick.
Cutting your strips against the grain will give you the classic chewy jerky look and feel, or if you cut with the grain this will give you a more sinewy texture.
Combine the all the other ingredients together in a bowl, and then add your meat and stir well to ensure the marinade is properly distributed. Then cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. If you want a stronger flavour then take it out and give a good stir before covering and refrigerating for a further 12 hours.
When you are ready to cook/dry the jerky, remove the meat from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature for about an hour.
Meanwhile, remove the racks from the oven, line the bottom of the oven completely with foil (or place a tray on the bottom rack to catch any juices which run off the meat while it cooks). Then turn on the oven to pre-heat to 80°C (175°F), and pop in your oven thermometer to check when the oven reaches 80°C and stays there. It is very important that the temperature does not drop below this to ensure you are cooking safely (more info here).
Remove the meat from the marinade, draining off any excess liquid and then thread a cocktail stick through the top of each strip of beef. Then use the cocktail sticks to hang the beef from the top of your oven racks, ensuring your foil or tray is placed on the bottom rack to catch any liquid which runs off.
Place the racks of meat in the oven and cook until completely dry. This can take as little as 2 hours and as long as 5 hours, depending on the thickness and moistness of the meat, and how chewy you want it to be. The jerky will firm up as it cools. Check the oven temperature regularly to ensure it does not get too low and adjust as needed.
The jerky is ready when it is dry, darker in color, and breaks gently (not snap) when bent. Blot any residual moisture from the jerky with paper towels and cool completely on the racks before storing.
Store the jerky in an airtight container kept in a cool, dry place. Well-dried beef stored in this way will last 1-2 months, though in my experience once a batch of jerky is ready in our house it normally disappears within 2-3 days!
Once you've tried the recipe out then why not experiment with other flavours - you could try different spices (maybe fennel or a little caraway?), garlic, sesame seeds or extra chilli. You know what you like, but don't be afraid to be bold!