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Pepper-Steak Jerky from Bottom Round in SV24: Q-view

Discussion in 'Making Jerky' started by forluvofsmoke, Oct 8, 2010.

  1. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Forgive me SMF readers...it's been about a year since my last whole muscle beef jerky session. Well, long enough that I can't remember when it was, sooooooooooooo, let the drool-view begin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I thought this would be a good time for a crash-course for the up and coming prospective jerky smokers (and a refresher for the rest of us...including myself...LOL!!!) I've had a really messed up work schedule this past week, and I'm finally on days off so I can finish the smoking project I started a few days back. I had just over 10lbs of Bottom Round (2 roasts) for a project starter. After trimming off the fat cap and the intermuscular layer, it was time for weighing, slicing and measuring out my cure/jerky seasoning.

    I did a wet cure and followed my recipe listed here:

    http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/fo...ot-pepper-jerky-seasoning-recipes#post_364990  

    I started the cure early, wanting to be sure it would be enough time, being these packs had 4lbs & 4.25lbs before the seasoning/cure mix was added, and were approx. 2" thick when I closed them up. I do the squish and flip a couple times daily to help get the cure/seasoning distributed well and I monitor my Q-fridge temps at the same time:

    [​IMG]

    I got home from work tonight...er, uh...this morning, yea... @ 2:00 am and by 3:20 am I had a charcoal-fired cold smoke started in the Smoke Vault...I had thought about using the toothpick hanging method last week when I started this project...another member had used it in his UDS a year or so back, and it looked like it worked out so darn well that I thought I better just go ahead and try it out:

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    8.25lbs pre-cured and seasoned weight, ~3/8" cut thickness, hanging on one 15" x 23" grate:

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    A half-dozen briquettes to kick things off with some hickory and cherry for the cold smoke:

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    Smoke temps for the first 20 minutes, without the burner lit:

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    Just getting it built up a bit here towards the 1 hour mark with the burner lit after the first 30 minutes, and slowly bumping it about every 10 minutes...I'm shooting for the ~160* range:

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    1 hour in and the meat is just starting to skin-over slightly:

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    And, this is why we check things out periodically until things are a bit more stable...a dehydrator would make this stage easier, but then where would the challenge be? LOL!!!!!:

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    Some steam is releasing from the longer pieces on the left and center as I opened the door to let some heat escape...this doesn't hurt anything to open up for a peek when drying, as it lets out some excess humidity and heat. I did bump the burner back just a touch, so I'll take one more look at chamber temps in another 20-30 minutes and we should be good to run for the duration of the drying stage if it's on target:

    [​IMG]

    The right-hand is starting to skin-over more and beginning to dry...I'll rotate the grate 180* in a bit to even things out....just passed the 2-hour mark right now as I'm loading these pics...looking for any signs of excessive heating underneath on the tips/edges...looks good so far:

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    One more smoker check, and of all is well, I'm off to bed for a nap...I have a hot smoke to start for dinner in the early afternoon as well as this jerky project, so I'll be a busy boy come friday...uh, OK...I guess it's Friday already...[​IMG]...nothing like a bit of sleep deprivation to test one's ability to think on the fly.

    Had a bit of a drop in temps, so I nudged it up again after the grate rotation...2.5 hours in and this is starting to look like the beautiful deep red color I've been longing for...man, it's been way too long since my last jerky smoke...btw, the residual smoke and drying seasoned meat has filled the still air in my outdoor kitchen and yard with a wonderful blend of savory scents...I just love rousting the early morning shift workers with a good smoke!!! They probably hate me for it, but they'll have to get over it! LOL!!!!!!:

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    Even with this meat curing in freezer ziploc bags, it was filling the house with garlic and other aromatics for that past 3 days...I about dropped to my knees when I opened the fridge @ 2:00 am to grab it for prep to smoke...not sure if it was sheer torture due to aroma, or anticipation.

    I haven't done thick cuts of whole muscle like this before, but I'm guessing about 12 hours drying time, so this will run 'til about 2:00 pm Mountain Time.

    Well, 2.75 hours in, and it's nap-time! [​IMG]

    Catch ya all with an update or two later!

    Thanks!

    Eric
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
    meateater likes this.
  2. arnie

    arnie Smoking Fanatic

     Whoa!   Lookin good!
     
  3. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    AWESOME !

    C'mon Eric--Don't leave me hangin' here--WAKE UP !

    Take some more pics!

    This baby is going in my file!!!!!

    Bear
     
  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks! The thing about jerky is, it's so darn easy to do...I don't know why i don't make it more often!


     
    Thanks Bear!

    OK, ya talked me into the pics....LOL! I wanted to show what this looks like about half-way through the drying stage anyway.

    The color is getting deeper and deeper here, and this is still a long time from being dried...texture check is semi-firm in most areas...some rendered out fat in the stainless water pan, and a good amount of shrinkage showing when compared to the previous pic:

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    Everthing looks like it's still drying pretty evenly...the top is drying a bit faster, which my theory is that #1) there's a bit higher temps up there, and #2) the meat is being stretched from the weight og the hanging meat it is supporting, causing a faster drying by pulling it thinner:

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    I rotated the grate 180* again here, at just short of 7 hours in:

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    At the drying rate I'm seeing right now, this will likely be pushing the 16-18 hour mark before I see anything close to my liking...but, the resulting chunks of highly seasoned smoky-dried beef...well, I'm anxiously awaiting the first bite and chew......

    OK, (slurp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) I gotta get busy with something now...like tonight's dinner!!!

    More to come, of course...I want to get a finished weight of this for a ratio, and that will tell me how well my drying went. I'm shooting for about 40-45% of what I started with...we'll see how it does.

    Thanks again!

    Eric
     
  5. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    That is some Great Looking Jerky Eric...
     
  6. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    New word coming----

    Getting Awesomer & Awesomer!

    Hope nobody steps on my tongue !

    Bear
     
  7. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    Eric

    Great post as always. That jerky is looking real good

     
    Bear

    You step on it enough for all of us LOL

     
     
  8. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    Great looking jerky! I need to make some of that. [​IMG]
     
  9. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks guys, the pics are coming again.

    I'm noticing alot of dark colors now, and a bit of pink left on a few spots, so it's almost there. Hmm, a bit over 14 hours so far...not too bad at all.

    My plan is to place all the pieces on paper towels in a pile, alternating end-to-end with small/large and putting the smallest pieces on top as they'll be the driest. Then, I'll cover this with more towels until it's cooled. This method should equalize the moisture content somewhat between the differing thicknesses...then, it can get bagged up after completely cooled. I'll weigh it out after it's cooled down also.

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    Texture is still a bit too soft in spots, so we'll keep the fire going for a couple more hours if needed.

    This is working out perfectly so far, and unless all hell breaks loose in the next couple hours, I don't forsee any issues on it finishing out like it should...we're almost to the bottom of a down-hill ride, baby!

    Weights and pics of a nice heap of pepper-steak jerky ASAP!

    Eric
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2010
  10. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I hit just under the 50% dried weight, so not a bad drying session. There were a few fairly thick pieces which we'll snack on tonight that weren't dried completely, and that alone will acount for a higher average moisture content by weight...but there's no waste when it comes to this stuff! LOL!!!

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    Here's what 4lbs of pepper-steak jerky looks like in a near completely dried state of (slurp) goodness:

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     My sunglasses make a good size comparison:

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    An average sample piece, torn in half to show interior color and texture:

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    I think I need to dedicate some extra time for doing more jerky every month...I mean, who doesn't like a really good jerky? Well, if you're a meat-eater, that is...not the store-bought stuff either...home-cured, smoked & dried is in a class all it's own.

    Great smokes to all!

    Eric
     
  11. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    wow that is some real nice looking jerky there. I am going to try the spice recipe thanks for posting [​IMG]
     
  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    You're most welcome! I just remembered something with the cayenne pepper in the hot recipe: if it seems to have a bitter after-taste as many people say it does, you can try a bit of cinnamon along with it. The cinnamon brings out a very subtle sweetness in the background which lends a really nice touch to the heat of the cayenne, and it seems to mask alot of the bitterness as well. For ratios, you could try about 10% cinnamon to 90% cayenne, or 1/8 teaspoon for 1 teaspoon cayenne, without any other changes to the recipes. I've done this with dry rubs and sausage recipes as well. Just remember, a little cinnamon goes a long way.

    Enjoy your jerky smoke!

    Eric
     
  13. nwdave

    nwdave Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    So, what you don't lose to immediate consumption [​IMG]  will you bag and freeze or refrigerate for immediate consumption?  This final step is the one I get confused with.  Even though you've used a cure, it's just to keep the meat safe thru the smoking stage, right?  The "cure" doesn't let you store it on a shelf like some of those store bought jerky's or am I wrong (which wouldn't surprise me most times).  I have an eye of round roast I bought that just might be the ticket for some smoked jerky this weekend and I just want to get my ducks in a row.
     
  14. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    That stuff looks so freakin' good Eric!

    Don't you pity the poor frontiersmen for having to eat that stuff?

    They didn't make theirs as good though, because SMF wasn't around back then!  [​IMG]

    Bear
     
  15. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi Dave! Eye of round would be great for jerky.

    Yes, the use of cure is for pre-drying safety of the meat, and it allows you to be much more flexible with your process, IMO.

    My main concerns with making jerky is that there is a possibility of problems from excess moisture content if not frozen for long term storage, or at least refrigerated if storage will only be for a week or two. The commercially made jerky has tons of...well, various additives which serve specific purposes, included those used for retarding mold growth. I say to retard mold growth, instead of inhibit mold growth because eventually mold spores will take hold in an un-sealed container. Here's what I think is a double edge sword: mold thrives in cool dark places, like refrigerators.

    Maybe I'm over-concious about food safety...I wouldn't consider myself to be anal about it by any means, as I'm not a clean fanatic over it, but the thought of myself or someone else eating a cured dried meat which wasn't processed according to methods which I know will be safe, well, it gives me a ugly feeling. If I don't have that warm, fuzzy feeling inside after I finish preparing a food, chances are that no one will eat it...at least not until I get answers to any questions I may have from a reliable source as to whether it is still safe to consume.

    Anyway, the low moisture content plays a major role in keeping the nasty little critters at bay once they have been destoyed. Precautions must be taken to ensure that seconday contamination does not occur after processing, including re-introduction of moisture. Curing agents like Tender Quick are a tool to help you keep the meat safe by inhibiting bacterial growth while handling and processing. If cure is not used, you need to use a different temperature guidline for drying. Higher temps are needed in order to kill the bacteria before the moisture content drops too low, or the bacteria can become heat resistant and live through the drying stage, becoming active and colonizing later on during storage of the dried meat product. We routinely store our jerky in ziploc bags at room temp, but this is only an amount which we will eat in about 1 week or less, which gives a pretty high margin for safety.

    When removing a package of jerky from refrigeration, I like to allow it to come to room temp before opening, as there will be moisture condensation. This is especially true with frozen jerky. In either case, you may want to leave the package open to allow it to air out for a few hours if any signs of moisture appear after opening...this will help to let it air dry. Keeping dried meats dry is the best way to ensure it will be safe. The presence of mold growth is obvious, but the bacterial threats are not generally visible unless it is a canned food product (bulging container), or the undeniable odor from the presence of bacterial waste.

    Basically, there are two different sets of "rules" for drying meats which I follow: drying only, which requires higher temps for safey drying meats, and, curing and drying, which can use lower temperature for slower drying.
     


    Here's a link to some excerpts with detailed info...in and around page 114 discusses cured and dried jerky, sausages, etc (don't worry, this excerpt begins @ page 109):

    http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/FSRE_SS_5MicrobiologyDried.pdf  

    This link provides info specifically to oven or dehydrator drying methods:

    http://www.uga.edu/nchfp/how/dry/jerky.html  

    I think similar info and links are posted somewhere in the Jerky Forum, but I haven't read through it for a long time, so I dropped these in for good measure.

    Thanks Bear, we are already having signs of withdrawal syptoms (hah-hah) from our kids less than 10 hours since their last "fix". They're begging for another piece of jerky. I told them it's a bribery leverage...er, uh... I meant to say bargaining chip...LOL!!!!!!
     

    You know, speaking of frontiersmen, we really have them to thank for this tasty snack treat. They did all the foot work which lead our jerky processing techniques to where it is today. And ultimately, we owe alot to the native American Indians who put down all the first stepping stones to drying meats because the european settlers were taught the basics from them. That's what I remember from our US history classes during my book schooling days, anyway.

    And, as you said, their jerky wasn't as good, but I bet they enjoyed it just the same. Some of the mountain men probably learned to hate jerky because that was one of the only meats they got for weeks at a time. The thing is, bach then, it was a necessity in order to have a good source of protein between the times when they could get a home-cooked meal. Really, we are a spoiled society in comparison to 170-200 years ago.

    But, all that said, we most definitely love our jerky!!!

    And, I like to do the blow-by-blow q-views, as there are always some little issues coming up from time to time which need to be dealt with, and each one is a lesson to be learned. If I don't post progressively, I may miss something important along the way, as the computer is my notebook in most cases.

    Have a great weekend full of smoke, everyone!

    Eric
     
  16. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Yup, If I remember correctly, it was mostly the "Fugarwe" Indians.

    Bear
     
  17. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    Hmm, I recall a tale or folk-lore about that tribe. Something to the effect that in the late evenings as the winds, weather and wild animals had settle down for the night, distant tribes could hear their voices as they called out to the gods, "wah fug ah we"...

    Eric
     
  18. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Same tribe:

    They were lost in a swamp when the Pilgrims arrived. The Pilgrims found them & lead them to a clearing. They had been lost for weeks. The Pilgrims asked their leader, "Who are you?"

    He replied in rather poor English, "Where the fugarwe?"
     
  19. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    AWESOME!!!

    I like to smoke jerky for a few hours and then finish in the dehydrator.

    Todd
     
  20. Once you took the meat out of the baggies did you rinse them off with water or place them right in the smoker?