Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cherry Teriyaki Beef Jerky

world harbors cheriyaki marinadeI found this bottle of "Cheriyaki" glaze, a cherry flavored teriyaki sauce, from World Harbors. It sounded SO good to me, that I had to try it with a batch of beef jerky.

I put my finger into the bottle and tasted it, and WOW! It's a tart, sweet, cherry flavored sauce, that ought to be awesome on beef jerky.

It's not a marinade, but it sounded too irresistible to not try as a marinade.

I also picked up a pound of beef top round, except this time I purchased a package of pre-sliced meat from my grocer's meat aisle. Normally, I would buy a whole slabs of top round, and slice it myself.

Making the Jerky

I threw all the meat into Ziploc bag and poured in about half-bottle of this marinade, and I let it sit for 36 hours.

After 36 hours, I laid the strips of beef on my BBQ grill, on the upper rack. I turned the heat all the way down. In fact, I only lit one burner.

Then I sprinkled on some "Szechuan Pepper" seasoning from McCormick's.

I let the meat sit 7 1/2 hours. The heat from the BBQ was very slight, otherwise this jerky dehydrated mostly under the sun. Air temperature today hit a high of about 90 degrees, but this sat under direct sunlight.

beef jerky

beef jerky

So how did it turn out?

Good. I don't really taste much of the cherry as I did from the original marinade. I do pick up a light fruity and tangy flavor, but it doesn't resemble cherry. As for the teriyaki, this doesn't taste like teriyaki. There is a sweetness and a light saltiness, but not what I'd call teriyaki.

Perhaps I need to marinate this in straight teriyaki marinade, and let it dehydrate until done. Then baste this Cheriyaki sauce on to the jerky, and let dehydrate for another hour.

I love the Szechuan Pepper seasoning. I only sprinkled a little bit on each piece, using my fingers. This adds a nice spicy flavor, with a little bit of hot, that seems to compliment the Cheriyaki marinade quite well.

It's still very light on salt. It could use more. Perhaps I need to add more into the marinade.

The natural meat flavors are light. I still can't figure out how to cultivate that flavor from jerky the way other manufacturers have done.

The meat is definitely done all the way through, but not overdone. It's soft, easy to eat, and has a really nice chewing texture.

Using beef top round that was pre-sliced by the grocer is problematic. First, they don't trim off all the fat and tendon. Second, they don't slice this in uniform widths, meaning these pieces dehydrate more quickly than others. It would be better to buy slabs of top round, and slicing it myself to ensure uniform dehydration.

I think this jerky came out good, not great but good. It just needs two things, one is to retain more of the tart, fruity cherry flavor, and two is to add more salt. The bonus is to cultivate more natural meat flavor.

Otherwise, I'm happy with this, considering I'm still a newbie at making my own jerky.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Pepperoncini Beef Jerky = Bad

Last month I blogged about my "First Attempt" at making jerky.

I used the pickling juice from a jar of pepperoncinis. My thought was that it contained vinegar and salt, which are two common ingredients used for jerky marinade. Combined with the fact that this juice is also quite spicy, I figured it would create some good jerky.

That batch didn't quite work out the way I had hoped. I couldn't taste much of the marinade. I had only marinated it for 2 hours.

So, a couple of days I tried this recipe again.

This time I marinated it for 2 days.

This time I got the full flavor of that pepperoncini juice. Except it tasted like crap when used as a beef jerky marinade.

I took one bite, and chewed it a little, and had to spit it out. I threw the rest of the jerky away.

But the lesson learned here...

  • If you want the full taste of the marinade, you must marinate for at least 24 hours, or longer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hot Teriyaki Jerky Recipe

For my second batch of jerky, I found this bottle of World Harbors Hot Teryaki sauce at my local Albertson's grocery store. It sounded really good for a jerky marinade. So I bought it.

When I opened the bottle and tasted the sauce, I thought, "Oh yeah!, this IS the bomb". It's a sweet teriyaki, with a spicy hot kick.

So here's the photo recipe of how I made this jerky...

I bought a package of beef bottom round, trimmed off the fat and gristle, and sliced the meat into strips, slicing against the grain.

I put the beef strips into a Ziploc bag and poured the teriyaki sauce in. I let this sit for 24 hours (well technically, 23.5 hours is what I did). Most instructions say to marinate in the refrigerator, however I let it sit on the kitchen counter. My thinking is that colder temps in the refrigerator will cause the meat to contract, and make it difficult for the marinade to soak in, whereas the warmer room temperature will do the opposite. I'm not sure if it made any difference.

After marinating, I laid the strips on the upper rack of my BBQ grill. Then I sprinkled on some "Szechuan Pepper" blend from Schilling, using just a light sprinkling.

Unlike with my first batch of jerky, I kept the lid to my BBQ grill wide open. I also started this during the heat of the Summer, around 1:00pm, whereas with the first batch I started at 7:00pm. I set the flame to its lowest setting, and only used the right burner, with the meat positioned opposite (middle-to-left) of on the grill.

The heat needs to be kept around 150 degrees F, hot enough to help the meat dehydrate, without actually cooking it. You don't want it to cook.

I stood around for about 30 minutes to see if the heat was too low, or still too hot, and it seemed be ok, particularly with the sun beating right down on it. I was also concerned about flies landing on the meat, but I think there was just enough heat from the grill that they kept away (I could see them flying around hoping to land).

After about 4 hours, the meat still wasn't totally ready. I tried a piece and it was very chewy, and still obviously a little raw. I turned over the meat, sprinkled some more seasoning, and this time closed the BBQ lid about half-way, using a garden-shovel to jam the lid open.

About 2 more hours later, I rechecked, and tried a piece. It definitely was not as chewy as it was earlier, and so I opted to remove it from the grill, and shut it off.

And this is what it looks like...

homemade beef jerky

homemade beef jerky
So how does it taste?

Well, not bad, but not what I expected. I'd rate this as "fair" on my beef jerky rating system.

The hot teriyaki sauce is noticeable, but doesn't have the same taste as it did from the bottle. It's a little more watered down tasting. But, I can taste it in the meat itself.

It's not as hot as it was from the bottle. That's a big disappointment for me.

It's very sweet.

I can taste the natural meat flavors somewhat. I'd like to know specifically what causes that flavor to come out, in the same way I found with brands like Big John's Jerky, Gary West Meats, or Rives Quality Meats. I'm wondering if some kind of aging is involved, either before or after marinating. Or maybe it's aged after packaging as it sits for a few days. Or perhaps, smoking enhances that flavor. Note that I did not smoke this meat.

The Szechuan Pepper seasoning seems just about right. It's just enough to taste, but doesn't overpower.

As for the meat consistency, it has a very steak-like chewing texture. For the most part, it's a soft, semi-moist chew, and very nice to snack on.

Some strips are still a little tough, and I do find chunks of unchewable tissues in this meat. Perhaps that's an aspect of bottom round instead of top round. I also found some thicker strips still very chewy, as if they're still a little raw.

So where do I go from here?

I did not add salt to this marinade because I figure the Hot Teriyaki marinade already has salt. This jerky could use a little more salt, however.

I think I'll stick with my use of the BBQ grill, since this isn't too bad. I need to slice the strips a little more thin, and keep them the same thickness, to ensure a consistent texture.

I think the next batch I'm going to try top round, instead of bottom round.

I need to do more reading on jerky recipes to figure out what brings out that natural meat flavor.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

My First Attempt

For my first attempt at making beef jerky, I wanted something spicy.

These days, I like everything spicy. Whereas years ago I would put cheese on everything, these days I put chiles, hot sauce, or salsa on everything.

So I decided to try something bold for my first ever jerky: "Pepperoncini Beef Jerky"...

I used bottom round. At first I looked at top round, but the bottom round looked more lean.

I trimmed off the strips of fat.

I sliced the beef into strips, cutting against the grain so that when it dried out, I could bite off chunks very easily.

The jerky ingredients: Grizzly Joe's Trail Dust, Giuliano Pepperoncinis, Casa Fiesta diced jalapenos.

Dump all the diced jalapenos into a ziploc bag.

Put the beef slices into the bag.

Pour the pepperoncini juice into the bag. The juice contains salt and vinegar.

Stick your hand into the bag and stir up the contents really well.

Let the bag sit and marinate. Most instructions I've read calls for anywhere between 6 to 24 hours. However, I let it sit for 2 hours.

After two hours, this is what it looks like. The meat soaked up about half of the pepperoncini juice.

I sprinkled Grizzly Joe's Trail Dust on both sides. The Trail Dust is a spicy steak seasoning.

I laid the strips on my BBQ grill, and one-by-one laid the diced jalapeno chunks on each strip.

Most instructions says the heat should be set to 150 or 160 degrees F. Unfortunately, the lowest flame on my grill warms up to 200F, and will go higher if I leave the cover completely closed.

So to help keep the heat down, I used a garden shovel to keep the BBQ cover partially open. However, it didn't help enough. I could only get the heat down to about 190F.

And here's the finished jerky. Because the heat crept up to about 190F, I couldn't keep the jerky on the grill for very long. Most instructions call for about 6 hours at 150F. I ended up doing 3 hours at 190F.

The verdict?

It sucks.

First of all, I can't taste any of the pepperoncini marinade. I guess I needed to marinate longer, and use more marinade.

Second, I sprinkled way too much Trail Dust. It was way too spicy, and too overpowering. For the most part, all I can taste is the Trail Dust.

The meat came out soft and tender, and very easy to chew. I was quite pleased with that part. However, I couldn't taste any of the meat. The meat consistency was comparable to pot roast.

I'd like to try this recipe again, except I think I'll buy a dehydrator instead.

The Grizzly Joe's Trail Dust might be ok for seasoning, but I don't think it works well with pepperoncini juice. I think just some salt and garlic is all that's needed. Also, the Trail Dust is very strong stuff, it should only be used sparingly.

The diced jalapenos are tasteless. It would be better to use fresh jalapenos and puree them, and then stir them into the marinade.

Monday, June 15, 2009

About this Blog

This blog chronicles my attempts at making beef jerky.

Beef jerky is perhaps my most favorite snack food. I've been eating and loving it since I was a kid. So, I wanted to try to make my own.

But perhaps a bigger reason for trying to make my own is because I write a beef jerky review blog, "Best Beef Jerky". I figure by making my own jerky, I can learn a lot more about jerky, which will help me write more insightful reviews.

If you like all things beef jerky, check out my other blogs...

Best Beef Jerky - reviews of jerky brands

Beef Jerky Diet - how to lose weight eating jerky

Beef Stick Reviews - candid reviews of meat sticks

Junk Food Blog - news and reviews of junk food