Friday, November 18, 2011

The gift that gives back?

Just a couple of days ago I posted a comment on Facebook stating that I was making jerky, which come to think of it will be done by the time you read this!  Well, I had a flood of comments from friends wanting me to bring them some.  Don't read into this the wrong way, a lot of those friends will be getting some jerky...but I thought this was a good opportunity to share what I use to make my jerky.  These are some more items that I received as gifts that I thought I would share with y'all to give you some more Christmas ideas.  I guess this is a good place to mention that I am NOT advertising for these products right now, or any of the others I have shared.  These are things that I really like to use that I feel are worth sharing.

There's a few things that are vital to good jerky, other than the meat of course!  You can make it without a smoker, but a smoker makes it oh so good!  And then there is the seasoning or marinade.  This will make or break the jerky. 

So first, the smoker.  You can spend hundreds of dollars on a smoker/cooker, which yes, I would recommend if you have the money.  But if you are looking for a deal that gets the job done and is very reliable, check out the "Little Chief" smoker.  I have had mine for about 5 years and I love it!  I have a lot of family members that own one as well.  The smoker is a perfect size for about 2 pounds of jerky meat (it comes with the wire jerky racks) and is also large enough to hold a ham or turkey.  I use my smoker as a dehydrator for my jerky as well.  I only smoke it for about 30 minutes, but I leave the jerky in for about 12-15 hours and it turns out great.  It also comes with a pan for the wood chips, and an insulating blanket that you can wrap around it to aid in holding heat.  The Little Chief can be found in Cal Ranch and Ace sporting goods sections, as well as through Cabela's and Sportsman's Warehouse.  A quick "google" also revealed a ton of other vendors.  I found it priced today from $95 to $130...$130 being the more common price.  There are also 2 other sizes in the series, the "Mini Chief" (around $99) and the "Big Chief" (around $149).  These are electric smokers, very simple, very easy to operate. 

Now you are wondering, where do I get the wood to put in the smoker?  You can find the "Smokehouse" brand wood chips at the same stores listed above for just a few fact, a 4-bag variety pack is only $20.  I have a wide variety myself, but for my jerky I enjoy a mix of mesquite, cherry, and apple.  I know they also carry the chips in hickory and alder.  They are also available as "chips" (more of a shredded texture) and "chunks" (larger pieces).

Now most importantly , how should you season your jerky?  Well, there are tons of recipes out there, and I have to say that I have seldom tasted bad jerky!  In fact, I'm sure I will share a few recipes on this blog in the future.  If you are looking for an easy answer that produces excellent jerky, then I suggest the "Hi Mountain Jerky Seasoning and Cure."  I have used this stuff for years and I love it!  Apart from seasoning, the packages also include a "cure" which better preserves the meat.  Each box comes with a the cure, seasoning, a shaker, and very easy to follow instructions.  This brand has many flavors to choose from, you can buy them individually or as variety packs.  Individual packs are around $5 to $10.  The variety pack is about $20.  These are also available at the stores mentioned above.  My favorites are the Bourbon BBQ, Mesquite, and Cajun.  When I take the BBQ or Cajun to work, it is amazing how fast the bag disappears!  You've got to try it!  I like jerky a little on the hot side, and to do that I simply sprinkle it with crushed red pepper flakes.  My wife got me the variety pack for Christmas a couple of years ago and I have really enjoyed it!

So there you go!  All those freezers full of elk and deer meat, or maybe even beef...what a better way to get it used up!  As mentioned before, stay tuned for a few more jerky recipes to come!

1 comment:

Charles D. Mancuso said...

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