Step-by-Step Guide To Making Dried Beef
Have you found yourself getting bored with the usual sandwich meat? Are you in the market for trying something new when looking to make a sandwich? I have spent some time learning how to properly dry beef and not without a few mistakes and missteps along the way.
I have also heard enough questions about the topic and repeated myself enough times that my desire to help people is nearly outweighed by my exhaustion from repeating myself. The good news is that I figured out a way to help people while sparing myself the work of constantly repeating myself by simply directing people to this article.
Yes, this article has been written with the goal of informing people about the ins and outs of drying beef cuts and the best implementation for them.
Anyone interested in making some delectable dried beef jerky is in for a world of flavor and wait times that sometimes exceed two weeks. That being said, anyone with the patience to endure the lengthy wait will be rewarded with a delicious protein that, while perfect as sandwich meat, is good for almost any meal.
What You will Need to Dry Beef.
Note that because different people's dry beef needs can vary, not everyone is planning to satisfy a 100-person family reunion, this list of necessities will be taking a ratio approach to its ingredients.
Why the Asterisk by the Tender Quick?
While this recipe was written with solid cuts of beef in mind, you can also attempt it with ground beef. In the case of making dried ground beef, cut the amount of Tender Quick you use to half a tablespoon per pound.
This recipe can work just as well for anyone with an interest in venison. The only thing you need to do is to trade out the beef for venison at a 1:1 ratio.
Step by Step Instructions for Drying Beef.
Step #1: Trim and Weigh the Beef.
Take a look at each piece of beef you intend to dry out and use your knife to carve away as much fat as you can, even the leanest piece of beef is bound to have a bit of fat connected to it and that blubber needs to blast off. Once you have sliced away every trace of jiggly fat from all the cuts you intend to use, measure each of the cuts.
Use your marker to note the weight of each cut individually, writing that number somewhere on that cut's plate. Weighing the meat out in the previous step makes every future step possible, leaving no real room for error.
Step #2: Season the Beef.
Set aside a separate plate near each plate that indicates the beef's weight. Use this second set of plates to keep the measured amounts of Tender Quick and brown sugar, checking the number you've marked on the plate to keep your measurements correct.
Once you have measured out each cut's necessary level of rub, start taking one cut at a time, making sure to rub every side and crevice with the Tender Quick and the brown sugar. After you have thoroughly rubbed the beef, place it in a suitably-sized Zip-lock bag. Make sure you include any of the cure that fell off as you bagged the meat.
Step #3: The Long Wait Begins.
Once all of your cuts have been seasoned and bagged, it is time for them to go into the refrigerator. Make sure that you have the temperature set somewhere between the range of 35˚F to 40˚F; personally, I set mine between 37˚-38˚.
To figure out how long you need to keep the meat refrigerated, you should wait a minimum of one day per half inch of thickness on the thickest piece you are drying plus two days after that. Never let this process for less than a week and a day.
Ideally, you want to add two or three days beyond this window, as a means of giving you peace of mind and granting you time to have the best day for smoking.
Step #4: De-Curing and Smoke Preparation.
Once the last day has come and gone, its time to remove the bags from the fridge and rinse their contents free of the salty, sugary rub using only water. If you are curious about saturation, you can slice a piece down the middle. If the sliced piece has a dark red-pink core and has a a slightly salty flavor, it is a perfect sample.
Dry the cuts off and then lay them out across a single smoker shelf if you can manage it. Sprinkle the cuts with black pepper and the garlic and onion powers, making sure that both sides get the treatment. Finish this step by returning everything to the fridge for the following day's smoke session.
Step #5: Time to Get Smoking.
Start the day by preheating the smoker to 140˚F. 30 minutes later, place the meat on second position in MES. Sterilize and insert your probes into the cuts. Fill AMNS with hickory dust and light one end. Half an hour later, put AMNS on bars to the left of your smoker's chip drawer. Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of around 116˚, raise heat to 160˚.
When your hickory dust drops to two inches, add at least one row of hickory pellets, using burning dust for ignition. Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of 137˚, raise the heat to 200˚.
Your goal internal temperature is 158˚ to 162˚; if your smoker runs out of fuel, coasting on the ambient heat should suffice. After the meat is done, rinse it, pat it dry, let it cool to 100˚, store in a bowl and refrigerate several days.
Step #6: Slicing the Cuts and Storing the Slices.
After two days, transfer the cuts to the freezer. Let the meat firm up in the cold for roughly four hours, then break out your knife and slice up the cuts to whatever thicknesses you favor, maintaining them as whole slices.
Store whatever cuts you plan to have in the next few days within fresh Zip-lock bags and in your fridge. For the remainder of the meat, bag the slices up and store them in the freezer.
Did you find this guide helpful or informative? I love dry beef and feel that its robust taste and relative simplicity to do right should be shared with as many people as I can. If you have the time and patience to outlast your need for delicious beef, you cannot go wrong with some homemade dried beef.
If you have any success stories from this guide, feel free to comment below. The same suggestion goes for anyone who thinks I forgot to cover a specific part of the process or who thinks I messed up at some point.
Also, if you have anything positive to say about this article or you were hunting around for some project for the grillmaster in your family to try, do not hesitate to share it with anyone who might be interested in drying their own beef.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long will dried beef last?
Properly dehydrated meat has no water content, and therefore can be safely stored for as long as six months in the freezer. If it has been properly cured, it does not require any refrigeration, however meats that are dried and smoked without curing still require refrigeration.
Do you need to remove the fat before drying beef?
Yes, trimming the meat to remove any fat or other white tissue is important before drying your beef. These fats can turn rancid much more quickly than the muscle meat, so it’s important to remove them to protect your dried beef.
Can you dry beef in a dehydrator?
While you can dry your beef in a dehydrator, we like using a smoker instead. Smoking your dried beef not only cooks out the water (like the dehydrator), but it also infuses your meat with subtle flavor from the wood and smoke.
How long does it take to smoke beef jerky?
Depending on the temperature of your smoker, it should take about 4 to 6 hours until your jerky is fully cooked. You know when the jerky is finished cooking because it’s tough and dry. If it is floppy or limp when you pick it up, you’ll need to keep cooking it for another hour or two.
How do you store dried meat?
Even though you’ll find shelf-stable dried meat at the grocery store, you should always store homemade jerky in the freezer. This is the best way to prevent the jerky from spoiling and ensure that you’re not consuming any unknown pathogens. It’s best to put the dried meat in an airtight freezer bag and freeze it in a single layer.