When Sutton was in elementary school, I would pick him and his brother up at the end of the day and one of our traditions on Fridays was to stop by the local 7-Eleven for snacks. At one point, Sutton started to choose beef jerky as his snack of choice. Years go by and Sutton continues to eat his weight in jerky whenever he can. Pre-packaged jerky can be pretty pricey, so a few years ago I decided to see if I could make my own at home.
For Christmas one year I was given a Traeger Pellet Grill (insert shameless plug in case they want to advertise on my site…). The model I use is the Texas Elite and this combination smoker/grill uses the indirect heat of wood pellets that are augured into a fire box slowly or quickly, depending on how hot you want the grill to get. The radiant heat gives cooks more consistent and even temperatures, food retains its moisture (therefore more juicy) and you can’t burn your food because there’s no direct flames. The pellets are harvested from different hardwoods such as hickory, cherry, mesquite and apple to give you different flavor options. I use hickory for this recipe.
(If you don’t have a pellet grill, you can do the same thing in your oven at home. Set your oven to 165 and preheat. Put your marinated or seasoned beef strips onto a wire rack with a sheet pan underneath to catch the drippings. Remember you are not trying to cook the meat, merely dehydrating it to the texture that you desire. “Low and slow” is the key is smoking meats AND in creating jerky. Low and slow worked for Barry White, and it will work for you too. There are also commercial dehydrators on the market.)
I’ve tried a few different recipe versions, using a combination of different meats, spices, rubs, etc. This is one that I think hits a homerun and Sutton, that judge of the jerky, has declared it his fave.
Sutton’s Beef Jerky
2.5# lean beef (I use london broil for this recipe; other great cuts you can use are top round, sirloin or flank steak)
2 cups orange juice
1 cup worcestershire sauce
1 cup teriyaki marinade
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp mill grind black pepper
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tbsp garlic powder
4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves pulled and minced
1/2 cup diced white onion
12 pack of your favorite beer
Mix all ingredients (except for the beef and the beer) in a large bowl and place in the refrigerator while you cut the beef. Make sure you mix the marinade very well to incorporate all ingredients.
Trim away any fat present on the beef and then slice against the grain into 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick slices.
(The thinner the beef, the more quickly it dries, but I prefer a little bit thicker cut.)
London Broil…and my flip flops.
Whisk the marinade one final time, then pour 1/2 cup of it into the bottom of a 9″ x 14″ glass casserole dish. Place a single layer of the beef strips into the bottom of the dish, then cover with 1 cup of the marinade. Place the remainder of the beef on top of the first layer, then pour all remaining marinade into the dish. Make sure that all of the strips are covered and even.
Let the strips marinate for 12-14 hours, covered and refrigerated. Drink a beer or several as you have plenty of time.
When you’re ready, preheat your smoker/grill to 180 degrees and place the beef strips perpendicular across the grill rack (don’t want the strips to fall in!). Close the lid and drink another beer.
At one hour, turn the strips over, then close the lid and…you guessed it…drink a beer. Turn the strips once per hour until done. Each time you turn the beef, drink a beer to celebrate your amazing cooking skills.
Check the texture at 3 hours in by pulling a beef strip from the smoker and tasting it…that simple. Depending on the thickness of the beef, it can take anywhere from 3-5 hours at 180 degrees. What you want the final product to be, texture-wise, is up to you. For me, 4 hours is the sweet spot.
When your jerky is done, pull the strips from the grill onto a baking sheet that has wax paper or parchment paper on top. Put into the refrigerator, drink your remaining beers and let the jerky cool down.
Once the jerky is cool, transfer to a Ziploc bag or other airtight container. This jerky will keep up to two weeks if kept in a cool, dry place like your fridge.
Have fun with the recipe. Don’t be afraid to split the steak into two sections and create a different marinade for each. Cooking is about experimentation. JUST REMEMBER to write your efforts down. You don’t want to create the Holy Jerky Grail only to forget what you put in the marinade, due to your excessive beer drinking.