8 below zero this morning, which meant that my plans for a long snowshoe along the Continental Divide might need rethinking. So instead of subjecting my husband to hours of whining, I suggested a shorter trip and an afternoon making a couple of batches of beef jerky. (Historical note: the first year we were married, we spent a tortured three hours hunting for a Christmas tree when the temperature was 36 below. I think I whined and moaned and complained pretty much the whole time. Lesson learned.)
The day was sunny and it actually warmed up to about 10 degrees, so the trip we took up a gulch near town was just right. (I’ve included pictures at the end of the post.) The two batches of beef jerky are just about done, and the kitchen is full of the peppery, limey, beefy smell of perfectly spiced meat. These recipes are easy to make, and the jerky has always been a big favorite when we’ve shared it on backpacking and float trips. I think it makes a great Christmas present, too!
First, prepare the meat: Take 2 pounds of top or bottom round, about 1 1/2 inches thick, and cut it into 1/4 inch thick slices. Marinate the meat in the marinade that you choose to use for 6 to 8 hours. We marinated ours overnight, and marinated half in the Mexican Lime marinade and half in the Sweet and Spicy marinade.
Mexican Lime Marinade (for one pound of beef)
one large jalapeno
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 quart Mexican beer, such as Corona or Pacifico (well…we used Rainier, since we forget to buy the Mexican beer. Does that make the recipe Northwest Lime Marinade?)
1/4 cup soy sauce
Finely chop the jalapeno, including the seeds. Stir the ingredients together and pour over the meat.
Sweet and Spicy Marinade (for one pound of beef)
3/4 cup brewed strong coffee
3/4 cup Coca Cola
1 or 2 star anise pods
1 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Asian fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup sambal oelek
In a saucepan, boil the coffee, Coke and star anise until reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then add the remaining ingredients, stir, and pour over the meat.
To dry the meat: remove two of the racks from the oven, line the bottom of the oven with aluminum foil, and preheat to 200 degrees. Remove the beef from the marinade and dry with paper towels. (This step is really important! If you don’t pat the meat dry you’ll end up with a house full of smoke. And yes, this is the voice of experience talking.)
Arrange the beef directly on the oven racks, return them to the oven, and bake for about 4 hours until the jerky is firm and almost completely dry, but still chewy.
If you make this, let me know how it turns out, OK?
Finally, here are some pictures from our sunny, snowy day up Helena’s Dump Gulch: