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Birthday Beef Jerky

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We were invited to a birthday party for Hubby’s uncle a couple of weeks ago.  Hubby mentioned that he really likes beef jerky.  As usual, my first inclination is, can I make that?

A few recipes later we were turning our oven into a dehydrator and slicing up fantastic flank steak from the farm up the road – lean, full-flavored, and just the kind of beauty only a meat-lover can appreciate.  We were just a little excited when tiny bits of meat came off that we could lap up over the 6 hours.  It made me think of that scene in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Little House in the Big Woods when they butchered the pig and roasted the tail on a spit.  Ah childhood memories.

Beef Jerky
Adapted from several recipes

Freeze fresh beef for about 30 minutes to make slicing easier.

2 pounds partially frozen flank steak or beef round, sliced into 1/4 inch strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T chili powder
2 T brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon paprika

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Move oven racks to the top- and lower-most notches.  Line a baking sheet with foil and place on the lower rack to catch drips.  Turn oven on to lowest setting, 160-170 degrees.

Insert a toothpick 1/2 an inch width-wise into each slice of meat and hang over the top rack – do not let the slices touch.  Insert a wooden or silicon spatula handle to keep the oven door propped open slightly so humidity can escape.

Dehydrate for 5-8 hours or until beef bends and splinters, but does not snap.  If the beef tastes more like steak than jerky, it is not done.  You may need to remove smaller pieces earlier on.

Cool and store in plastic bags for up to 2 weeks in the fridge, or freeze up to 3 months.  Vacuum-packing will prolong the freshness.

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