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Dried Beef Step by Step (Great Stuff)

Discussion in 'Beef' started by Bearcarver, Aug 11, 2014.

  1. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Dried Beef Step by Step (Great Stuff)

    I decided to write this one up the best I can, because this stuff is Awesome, and I'd like as many of you as possible to get to taste this stuff!!!
    It's really very easy to make:

    When I was carrying a lunch box, I used to always have two Sammies in there.
    If Mrs Bear put two Ham & Cheese in there, after 3 days, I'd get tired of it.
    If it was Roast Beef, same thing after 3 or 4 days.
    Lebanon & Cheese, maybe only two days & I was tired of it.
    But Dried Beef was different, I could eat that for months, but it was always too expensive!!!

    Dried Beef and American Cheese with Miracle Whip (or Mayo) on white bread has always been my favorite "lunch-box" sammy. That's what I carried on Construction jobs, Beth Steel jobs, Cabinetmaking jobs, and Deck jobs (also when fishing or hunting).
    Just about every deer I ever shot had at least one hind quarter turned into "Dried Venison" by one of our local butcher shops in SE Pennsylvania.

    Now I can make my own. I made my first batch 4 years ago, and they just keep getting better and better!

    If I don't have any Venison, I just get some lean beef. Eye Round works the best for me---Nice shape, and very little trimming needed.

    I'll try to make this as easy as I can, so anybody can do what I just learned how to do 4 years ago.

    Day #1 (Prepping & starting the cure):
    First I found some Beef Eye Round.
    I got 4 roasts, equalling a total of 15 pounds, and after trimming all the fat off, I still had exactly 14 pounds of nice lean red Beef.

    Then I weighed each piece, and put them each on their own plate, and marked the plates they were on with those weights.
    Then I calculated the proper amount of Tender Quick for each piece, and put that on separate smaller plates.
    I use the suggested amount, which is 1/2 ounce of TQ for every pound of meat.
    Rub the proper amount of TQ on each piece, along with about 1 tsp of Brown Sugar per pound.
    Then put each piece in a Zip-lock bag, along with any cure that fell off before it went into the bag.
    That cure was measured for each piece, so it must stay with the piece it was designated for.

    Then the bags go into the fridge at temperatures between 35˚ and 40˚ (I keep mine at 37˚-38˚).
    To calculate how long to cure in fridge, I use the following method:
    One day for every 1/2" of thickness of the thickest piece.
    Then add 2 days for the absolute minimum number of days.
    I then add 2 or 3 days to that for more safety, and to pick a day I like to smoke.
    You can add another couple days if you can't smoke on one of those days.

    My largest piece was 2 3/4" thick, so that gives me 6 days, plus 2 days for an absolute minimum of 8 days. Then I normally add 2 more days for more safety, but this time I added 4 more days (12 total days), so I could smoke it on a day I had nothing else to do.
    Note: I Never cure for less than 8 days.

    Day #13 (Remove from cure, and Prep for Smoking):
    So after 12 days curing, I rinsed all 4 pieces off.
    I usually soak my cured meats for a half hour or an hour, but since I never get any salt flavor, I decided not to this time.
    I cut the biggest piece in half, and took a slice from the middle for my testing.
    The center was dark reddish pink, so it was obvious that the cure got all the way in, and there was only a very slight salt flavor---Perfect!

    I dried the pieces off, and managed to get them all laid out on one smoker shelf, after sprinkling some Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, and Onion Powder on both sides.
    Then back into my meat fridge to await the next day's smoking.

    Day #14 (Smoking Time):
    6:00AM------------Preheat Smoker to 140˚.
    6:30AM------------Put meat on 2nd position in MES. Sterilize Probes, and insert. Fill AMNS with Hickory Dust & light one end.
    7:00AM------------Put AMNS on bars to left of Chip Drawer.
    8:00AM------------Meat at 77˚ IT.
    9:00AM------------Meat at 98˚ IT.
    10:00AM----------Meat 108˚.
    11:00AM----------Meat 114˚.
    12:00Noon-------Meat 116˚. Bump Heat up to 160˚.
    1:00PM-----------Meat 120˚.
    2:00PM-----------Meat 124˚. Only 2" of Dust left to burn. I added about 1 1/4 rows of Hickory pellets next to burning Dust to ignite it.
    2:00PM-----------Also Bump Heat up to 180˚.
    3:00PM-----------Meat 132˚.
    4:00PM-----------Meat 135˚.
    5:00PM-----------Meat 137˚. Bump Heat to 200˚.
    6:00PM-----------Meat 142˚.
    7:00PM-----------Meat 147˚.
    8:00PM-----------Meat 152˚.
    9:00PM-----------Meat 157˚. AMNS ran out of fuel.
    10:00PM---------Meat Temps from 158˚ to 162˚. Pulled all out of smoker.

    Rinsed all pieces, patted dry, and cooled down to 100˚.
    Then put in a bowl, and put in meat fridge for a couple days.

    Day #16 (Slicing & Freezing):
    Two days later, I moved the pieces to the freezer for 4 hours, and then sliced it all up.
    I sliced the ends a little thicker for my Son.
    He says the end slices are better tasting than any Jerky he ever had.
    Then I sliced the rest as thin as I could, while still keeping it in full slices.

    I ended up with 10 pounds, 2 ounces of the Best Dried Beef I ever tasted.

    I put about 1/3 pound in each vacuum pack, and froze all but what we would eat in a few days.

    I tried not to miss anything, but I'll try to answer any questions anyone has.


    Trimming fat from 15 pounds of Eye Round Roast:

    14 pounds left after trimming:

    All weighed, and proper amounts of TQ in small plates to match each piece:

    All ready for 12 days of curing:

    Juice left in all 4 bags, after curing, was 7 ounces:

    Sliced for Salt-fry Test. Color shows cure reached to center:

    Salt-fry Test in progress:

    Test showed "Just Right":

    Ready for overnight in fridge before smoking day:

    All pieces cut in half, and ready for slicing real thin:

    Closeup to show color:

    Victims all lined up:

    All sliced up:
    9 pounds, 7 ounces of slices, and 11 ounces of ends.
    Total-----10 pounds, 2 ounces from 14 pounds of raw trimmed Eye Rounds:

    Closeup of slices:

    All ready for eating & freezing:
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
    zwiller, Steve H, Phil Chart and 7 others like this.
  2. jirod

    jirod Smoke Blower

    I'll 2nd that. This stuff is amazing. Never was a huge fan of dried beef, but thought it was ok. Tried this as an easy first attempt at curing something. It is phenomenal. All my buddies are hooked.

    One buddy gave me a chunk of deer loin to try. Smoked and sitting in the fridge resting. Will slice tonight. Got a feeling it will be great. And have a feeling my fridge and smoker will be VERY full come deer season.

    Only down side is with beef prices all crazy, eye of round is $6-7 a pound. But every now and then I just have to pony up and make some more. I'll eat it by the bag full. Thanks to Bear for all his great step by step help.
  3. ctonello

    ctonello Smoke Blower

    Hey bear I have some deer and moose roasts I plan to use this recipe on. I will be using cure #1 instead. How would you adjust the recipe for that. I know it is 1/4 tsp per pound but would you add extra regular salt also?
  4. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Personally I wouldn't use Cure #1 for Dry curing, but some do.

    I believe it would be 1 tsp for every 5 pounds, so 0.2 tsp per pound. Then you would add no less than 2 tsp, and no more than 3 tsp (1 TBS) to the Cure #1.

    Then you have to mix it real good before rubbing it on each piece. Then after rubbing the Cure #1 & Salt mixture on, add the Brown sugar in my recipe. Everything else stays the same.

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  5. turick

    turick Meat Mopper

    Oh John, that looks amazing!  Is Tender Quick the equivalent of Cure #2, or is it different that Cure #x in any way?  Also, what kind of slicer do you have and do you like it?  I really need to find a decent one that won't break the bank.
  6. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Thanks Josh!!

    Tender Quick is a curing mix made by Morton's Salt Company.

    Morton®  Tender Quick®  mix contains salt, the main preserving agent; sugar, both sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite, curing agents that also contribute to development of color and flavor; and propylene glycol to keep the mixture uniform.

    It is not interchangeable with Cure #1 or Cure #2.

    Tender Quick is used at a rate of 1 TBS per pound of solid meat, and 1/2 TBS per pound of ground meat.

    I don't actually own a slicer. My Son has a Chef's Choice, and we share it from one end of the driveway to the other. I think it was around $400.

  7. turick

    turick Meat Mopper

    Wow...  I might have to start hitting up some flea markets or start monitoring craigslist or something for a slicer.  Either that, or the three of us could start sharing, and you could just ship it to me whenever I need it?  ;)

    This might sound like a dumb question, but why do you prefer TQ over traditional cure?  I guess since it has sodium nitrite and nitrate it sounds pretty close to #2... is there a flavor difference or anything like that?
  8. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    IMHO, I get better flavor with Dry curing with TQ than with brine curing, and I like the fact that Morton's makes Tender Quick with Propylene Glycol which keeps it uniform. If you tried to Dry cure with Cure #1, you would have to either try to spread 1 ounce of Cure #1 over 25 pounds, or mix the salt with the Cure #1 first. If you mix your own, you would have to use it all or mix it every time you use it, to avoid stratification.

    If I was going to brine cure, I would probably use Cure #1, and use Pops' mixture, but as long as I Dry cure, I will use TQ.

    hoity toit and stjoeguy1122 like this.
  9. ctonello

    ctonello Smoke Blower

    Thanks for the info. If I am to use cure #1 for this do you think that pops brine would be a better way to go?
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Yes, in fact give me a minute & I'll find you a Dried Beef Step by Step that Pops did.


    On Edit:   Here ya go---Here's Pops' Dried Beef:

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  11. ctonello

    ctonello Smoke Blower

    Thanks bear you really are a wealth of information.
  12. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Thank You!!

    I hate to direct people from one of my threads, but Pops is a good guy & I know he won't steer you wrong, and I know if somebody wants to use TQ, he would send them to me. He & I work together like that.

    Pops is a good man, for a youngster.[​IMG]

    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014
  13. ctonello

    ctonello Smoke Blower

  14. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Thank You jrod!!!

    Back to the Dried Beef !!!

    I wasn't ignoring you jrod----Just got side-tracked.

    I'm real glad you & your Buddies like this. You sound just like I did the first time I made this stuff!!!  Amazed!!

    As for the prices of Eye Round----Check into Bottom Round, as you can see below Bottom Round is Great for Dried Beef too.

    Just make sure you trim ALL the fat off. Fat isn't good in Dried Beef.

    Canadian Bacon and Dried Beef

  15. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    In case anyone's interested, I just put this thread in my "Step by Step" Index.

    This is the first new one since I made the Index, so I marked it " *New ", and put the date there in Red, so it's easy to see there's a new one there.

    This is also my best Dried Beef Thread yet.

    Thanks All, 

  16. pc farmer

    pc farmer Epic Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Why is this batch better?

    Do anything different?

    I am gonna have to pony up and buy some meat to make more dried beef.

    By the way, all that dried beef looks AWESOME.
  17. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Thanks Adam!!

    Why is this one better?

    I might have written this one up better than most, plus the following:

    One reason is the sizes of the pieces were 2 3/4" thick or less, so I didn't slice them in half. That gave me nice uniform slices after smoking. I like that when making my Sammies.

    Another reason is my heat stayed balanced nicely due to my bottom baffle plate, and I got 14 hours of perfect smoke on this batch, and ended up at my preferred 160* IT, with just the right amount of moistness.

    And the flavor of TQ Dry Cured Smoked Dried Beef is just flat out Awesome!!!

    Everything went so smoothly, so it should be a real good one to follow.

  18. Bear hit it out of the park again, he always does, such great pictures and step by step instructions, even I could do it.

  19. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Thank You Gary!!

    Dried Beef really is easy to do this way!!

  20. [​IMG]That looks GREAT Bear! I have to give this a try.

    Happy smoken.