Coming on the back of recent growth in Great British Charcuterie, Jerky is gaining in popularity every day. 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.
First take all your ingredients except the beef, and combine in a large bowl. Then cut your beef into long strips around a 3-4mm thick with a very sharp knife, and add to the bowl, mixing well to ensure the all the beef is fully coated in the marinade.
Then cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, stirring once or twice during this time. If you want a stronger flavour you can continue to marinade for a further 24 hours, again giving a good stir once or twice during this time..
When you are ready to cook, remove the racks from the oven and 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). 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 dab dry with some kitchen towel. Thread a cocktail stick through the top of each strip of beef, and 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, Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Store the jerky in an airtight container kept in a cool, dry place. Well-dried beef stored in this way will last a couple of weeks, or longer if you store in the fridge, though in our 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!