USDA Paleo Jerky (what our ancestors wanted to make)

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by newburydave, Feb 29, 2016.

  1. Here is my first shot at Minimalist Jerky. AK1 inspired this effort, though I did go a little beyond his suggestion; I added a dab of Garlic and onion powder.

    Beyond that the size of the meat pieces are also different that "normal". When I had the butcher in the supermarket slice the steak to 3/8" thick across the grain his "by eye" estimate of 3/8" was more like a generous 1/2"+. So I figured, what the heck, when my ancestors in the primordial forests...steppes...plains, etc. took a deer, buffalo, woolly mammoth, giant sloth or stray steer from the white invaders I doubt they used a ruler to measure the meat strips they sliced up with their flint knives to salt, hang and dry in the smoke of their hunting campfires, tops of their teepes/yurts, etc. Sooo....I just sliced the beef hunks about an inch wide and marinated them.

    Sorry about the pic quality, cell phone photo.

    The "recipe" (it was really more of an idea) I used was:


    @ 1 lb of top round steak sliced cross grain @1/2" thick, cut into @ 1" wide strips 3"- 6" long

    1/8 tsp - #1 cure (Hi-Country brand) 

    1/8 tsp - Adolphs tenderizer          

    1 Tbsp - Kosher salt                      

    1/2 tsp - ground black pepper          

    1/2 tsp - Liquid smoke     

    1/8 tsp - ground garlic

    1/4 tsp - onion powder         [IMHO beef doesn't taste natural without onion and garlic.]


    I mixed these few ingredients up in @ 3 cups of hot water (180 deg +/-) enough to completely cover the meat.

    Marinated the meat in the fridge from Saturday at 1700 to Monday at 1400 (about 45 hrs) to make sure the marinade had time to completely ozmosisofy into the thicker meat (yeah, the spell checker never saw that word before either) then put it into the dehydrator.

    It's drying now.

    In part this is a test of how powerful my dehydrator is.

    Results Later.
  2. First update:

    Monday at 2245 the center of the dried strips was still noticeably moist.
  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have to ask, if your butcher hand slices the meat, why have the butcher do it? I slice all my jerky by hand and its spot in where I want it. If needed you can make an unjustable jig for different thicknesses.
  4. Dritsailor;

    A point well taken. When I saw how it came out I decided that I could definitely do better myself.
  5. Well...that was interesting.

    Left the beef in the dhydrator until 0630 this morning (1400 Mon to 0630 Tues: 16.5hrs.

    It still tastes like well spiced beef, but it is crunchy and hard. Not tough, it breaks and crumbles easily. It's tender enough to eat but I think the moisture content is somewhere aroun 0%-3%.

    If I crushed it in a mortar and pestle I'd have beef powder. Mix in some beef tallow, dried blueberries and maple sugar and I'd have Pemmican. Interesting Idea. [​IMG]

    The flavor is very distinct despite the small amount of flavorings I used. I like the minimalist approach. Not sure if this was a legitimate baseline (Ahem, a bit too much tinkering) but for an experimental batch it has given me some ideas for my next batches.

    OK, lessons learned:


    1. As Dirt sailor observed; Cut the beef myself and stop being lazy. [​IMG] (no you didn't say that but that's what I thought before I read your post)

    2. Don't dry meat overnight. Stay on top of it and check every hour when it get's near to done (unless I'm making Survival Jerky for use in the Zombie Apocalypse). I 'spect this stuff will keep almost forever without spoiling, assuming I keep it dry. It now has the consistency of Freeze Dried meat.

    3. My dehydrator has the power to handle thicker cuts of meat, if I keep an eye on it and don't let it get too dry and make Zombie Apocalypse Jerky out of it.

    4. When you marinate for a long time even a small amount of flavorings and spices flavor the meat well.

    Thanks to AK1 for the idea to try this approach.

    Good providence and great smokin' to all


    Pics after drying:

    ak1 likes this.
  6. I re-hydrated the beef with a few spritzes of hot water so they are more like typical Jerky. I'm going to eat it; but it's not a recipe I want to repeat without some adjustment.

    First thing I noticed is that I used way too much salt. Probably the salt in the cure and the tenderizer would have been enough. I guess you had to be tough to be a Paleo Hunter, methinks they were made of sterner stuff back then.

    Second thing I noticed is that I like a bit of sugar in the spices to balance off the salt. This "salt and pepper only" recipe would keep you alive, and probably last well without refrigeration: but it's not cuisine I'd like to live on long term unless I had to.

    Thirdly I can see now why the rule of thumb is 1/4" to 3/8" max for Jerky slices. I can dry the thicker pieces; but they dry more slowly and less consistently. Oh well, live and learn.

    The Thai Jerky is still my favorite. As soon as the Fish Sauce gets here I'm making another batch with some On Sale top round London Broil I scored at the local market. I'll try the original recipe without mods and see how it goes with the genuine Oriental sauce.

    I'm glad my wife likes Worcestershire Sauce so the big bottle I bought won't go to waste since I don't think I'll be using it again.

    Good providence and great smokin' to all

  7. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm glad I could be of some inspiration. Nice work[​IMG]
  8. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    That is the problem with meat cut Across the grain. If you get it dry enough to store without refrigeration, there is a risk it will be Crumbly. I like Jerky cut With the grain, good old fashion Jawin' Jerky. Whatever level of dryness, it holds up...JJ
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2016
  9. JJ

    An interesting perspective. Haven't heard that before; but it makes sense. The bend test seems to depend on "with the grain" cuts.

    Any idea why the coventional wisdom says cut across the grain?
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Across the grain is Common but I don't know if I would say Conventional. Lots of Jerky was cooked with in the old West. Across the grain would give a Stew of what would look like Ground Beef from falling apart. Take strips of With the Grain Jerky, cut into bite sized pieces and after cooking you still had hunks of beef to eat or shred for eating in Tortillas...For less dry Jerky, Across the Grain makes for an easier chew but, for me, is too crumbly and sandy in the mouth when fully dried. With the grain is what I most often had from local farmers markets and artisinal made sources. Bite off a chunk, roll around in the mouth and chew to rehydrate. Get the full flavor out, then chew some more...JJ
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2016
  11. ak1

    ak1 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yeah that!
  12. Interestilg. So the fully dry, as almost 0% water content was the old time preservation method. The "bends but don't break" standard is for modern eat off the shelf "truck stop" jerky. Eh?

    Makes sense.

    OBTW, do you ever make Pork jerky? I see more good sales for lean pork than for good lean beef.
  13. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Not 0% , that would have to be grated like Bonito Flakes but leathery and no Preservatives that may be in Truck Stop Jerky. Sorry I can't be precise, they didn't have Water Activity meters back then.[​IMG]  Here are Modern Guidlines...

    I have not tried these but did the research and bookmarked the recipes below. I had a Beef version from Chinatown NY, really good...JJ
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2016
  14. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  15. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper

    Thankyou for that "cut" clarification sir, was not sure what the difference was between the "with" and "across" grain cutting  :)


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