How do you make dried beef? It is quite an amusing question, considering that drying is not a new food preparation method at all! In fact, drying (or dehydration for some) is a traditional method of preserving food that has been around since time immemorial.
Now, let me be clear about this. Dehydration is not actually a cooking method, as there is nothing that is being cooked here. Instead, it is merely a preservation method that makes meat products edible. It is like hitting two birds with one stone.
Because of this fact, drying requires your serious attention. Otherwise, your meat might become infected by bacteria that could cause foodborne diseases, and no one wants a quick trip to the hospital. Not you. Not me. Don’t worry. I will later show you how you can protect your meat from bacteria.
I know you’re quite excited about this tutorial. So let’s stop beating about the bush here and get started with our dried beef recipe right now!
Dried beef has more nutritional content than boiled or fried beef, as the drying process does not leech out the nutrients in the meat. But to make sure that things go smoothly, acquire these ingredients first:
- Beef round (2 pounds).
- Worcestershire sauce (3/4 cup).
- Soy sauce (3/4 cup).
- Smoked paprika (1 tablespoon).
- Garlic powder (1 teaspoon).
- Onion powder (1 teaspoon).
- Red pepper flakes (1 teaspoon).
- Honey (1 tablespoon).
- Black pepper (1 tablespoon).
- Salt (1 teaspoon).
- Gas smoker (or you can use an oven as an alternative).
It is crucial that the meat you choose is appropriate for drying, so you have to choose tcuts or portions that are lean. Take note that cuts with fatty layers are not really great for drying. They won’t cook, and so will remain raw and inedible. If the meat you’ve got has fats, you have to trim it.
Once your meat is polished, you have to slice it into strips. Make the slices as thin as possible, so that the drying process is fast and smooth. Also, don’t forget that you have to slice against the grain, as this will keep the beef moderately tender. This is the ideal texture for dried beef and jerkies.
The slices I make are around 1/4-inch thick. I used a sharp slicing knife or a Santoku knife as they are the ideal choices to make this tricky process easy and bearable.
Leave your meat strips for a while and make the marinade. There are various types of condiments and spices that you can use to make a marinade. I have written special content about marinades that discusses these special food additives. You can check them out here. But in the meantime, just use the ones I have listed in this tutorial. They are the basic ingredients for most dried beef recipes.
Of course, using a marinade is crucial for dried beef. You cannot let the meat dry with a bland taste. The marinade will also cure the meat. Take note that salt is included in the mixture.
Take a large bowl and pour all of the ingredients in there (except for the meat). Use a spoon to mix the ingredients until you have achieve the desired texture and taste. Once you are satisfied, you can add the meat strips.
Coat the meat well with the marinade. You can even hand-coat it if you want the marinade to seep into the flesh of the meat. After coating, cover the bowl and put it in your refrigerator and let it stay there for 6 to 12 hours.
Once the marination process is done, take out the meat strips from the bowl. You don’t have any use for the marinade how so you can throw it away. Place the meat strips on a baking tray and let them dry. If you want a foolproof way to dry the meat, put them in your refrigerator. This is the most efficient way of drying them. I do not really recommend air drying because that exposes the meat to bacteria.
Let the meat stay there for around 15 minutes. You could also use a clean paper towel to wipe off the remaining liquid on the surface of the meat.
Once all of these preparations are done, you can start drying the meat. Ideally, the heating device you should use in this process is a gas smoker. Traditional smoking could work, but it will expose the meat to unwanted detriments, like bacteria and other organisms. A gas smoker can quicken the process without ruining the quality of the meat. But if you don’t have this device, you can opt for an oven.
Either way, heat up the device to around 175 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the safest temperature range that can dry up the meat without frying or cooking it. Put the meat on your heating device and make sure they are aligned properly. The meat strips should not be in contact with one another.
With this temperature, the beef strips will be fully dry in 3 to 6 hours. You can check the meat by taking one strip off and bending it. If the meat bends but doesn’t crack or break, you have dried the beef strips. If it cracks, the meat is overcooked.
- If you are going to use an oven, make sure that you leave it slightly open. Drying the meat requires the movement of air, so that the moisture can escape, and the meat dries off effectively.
- Open the vents on the gas smoker from time to time to make sure that the liquid from the beef is siphoned out. Food dehydrators don’t require you to do this, as they have integrated mechanisms that promote proper air circulation.
- Don’t worry if you cannot consume the entire serving in a single eating. Dried products are known for their long lifespan. Just store them in an airtight jar or container and put them in your fridge. The dried beef should last for around 1 to 2 months. If you store it in your freezer, the beef could still be edible up to 4 to 6 months.
Learning how to make dried beef is pretty simple. The process does not involve any complicated stuff or ingredients. As long as you have the right drying device, you can do this recipe anytime you want. Although it is a time-consuming process, the end product is very rewarding. The taste and flavor of a perfectly dried beef are truly addictive and indulgent!
Just don’t forget to follow the procedures I have highlighted. They will guarantee that your dried delicacy will be free from harmful organisms.
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