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4 Bear Ranch Venison Jerky

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1/15/2022, By Julie Van Hise

Hi! Welcome to 4 Bear Ranch's Recipes & More category of our blog! Some recipes will be our own, some will be other's recipes modified, and some will be other's recipes shared - because they are just that perfectly tasty! Links to the original recipes are always posted, giving credit to the original author, or site in which the recipe was obtained. In any case, we hope you try the recipes in this blog and enjoy them as much as we do!

4 Bear Ranch Venison Jerky

We love jerky...all of us...even Makenzie. It is a great snack at any time - while working the ranch, the orchard, out hunting, and during soccer games. Jerky is easy to make - though it does take time, and some attention. Trust us - we have made some pretty bad jerky because we left it in the dehydrator way too long...This recipe is actually based on our venison steak marinade for the grill. This is a good basic recipe that you can easily adapt to your own taste, add more honey if you want it sweeter, add garlic for a tang, or add red pepper flakes for some added heat, just as examples.

1 lb venison meat cut into thin strips

1/3-1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

1/3-1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper

1/4 tsp curing salt

2 Tbsp honey

1-2 drops of your favorite hot sauce, we use Scorned Woman...or if you are like Chris, add several drops of hot sauce to taste

Note: There are 2 methods used to prevent the development of food borne illness that may develop while making jerky. The venison can be boiled in the jerky marinade, at the end of the marination period, for 5 minutes. Or, the dried jerky can be heated in a pre-heated 275 F degree oven for 10 minutes. The USDA recommends using a curing salt mixture and boiling the meat prior to drying to reach an internal temperature of 160 F degrees.

1. Cut venison into thin 1/8" - 1/4" strips parallel to the direction of the grain for chewy jerky, against the grain for easier to chew jerky. Try to cut the slices at approximately the same thickness for even drying across the strip and throughout the batch. It is easiest to slice the meat when it is still partially frozen. Remove any silver skin and fat on the exterior of meat. Of course, the thinner sliced the meat, the faster it will dehydrate.

2. Place the venison strips in a glass bowl, ensuring no strips of meat are stuck together. I like to place each layer of meat in a crisscross pattern, just to be sure all strips are separated.

3. Add all other ingredients to the glass bowl. Using your hand, or appropriate non-metal utensil, mix everything around until honey is fully incorporated into mixture. You can also combine the liquid ingredients and seasonings in a separate bowl and then add to the bowl with the venison in it. Be sure that the meat is thoroughly mixed into the liquid. Gently press the venison down, the liquid should be approximately the same level as the meat in the bowl. Cover the meat mixture with plastic wrap and place into the refrigerator overnight (at least 8 hours). If using the boil method to prevent food borne illness, then this is when you do it, see note above.

4. Remove the venison from the mixture and set on a drying rack to drain excess liquid. If necessary, pat excess liquid off with a clean paper towel. You do not want the marinating liquid to drip into the dehydrator, if possible. Place meat on dehydrator racks in a single layer approximate 1/4" apart from each other. Follow the directions of your dehydrator for making jerky. Our dehydrator instructions have the user turn the temperature dial on high for 3 hours, then medium until dry. Check the meat and flip to ensure even drying at approximately the 4-hour mark. At this point, we also reverse order the dehydrator trays to ensure even drying from top to bottom of the dehydrator. Continue to dehydrate jerky for an additional 2-4 hours.

5. Or, if you do not have a dehydrator, place oven safe cooling racks with meat slices on a sheet pan large enough to collect any drippings and place in a 150 F -160 F degrees oven for 4 fours, check the strips and flip around the 3-hour mark. Then reduce the temperature to 135 F - 145 F degrees and dry at an additional 2-4 hours, or until dried, thicker slices will require more time to dry. There should be no wet portions of meat. Don't let the oven get too warm or it will cook the meat instead of drying the meat. It is recommended to have an internal oven thermometer to ensure the air is the correct temperature. If your oven gets too warm, prop open the door slightly to achieve the proper internal drying temperature. If using a convection oven, we recommend checking the jerky a little more often to ensure the meat does not turn into shriveled up pieces of inedible pebbles of venison.

6. In either method used for drying above, there will be some pieces of jerky ready before others. Remove those pieces of jerky that are done and continue to dry the rest of the meat. If you do not remove the finished pieces of meat, they will turn into quite hard, little nasty pieces of somewhat burnt ickiness - not yummy chewy jerky.

7. If you did not boil the venison in the marinade, then your last step is to bake the jerky to ensure no bacteria have formed. Place the strips of jerky on a cookie sheet in a pre-heated 275 F degree oven for 10 minutes.

Don't fret if your jerky is slightly crunchy or overly dry - long as there are some bendy pieces with a little bit of moisture left in them, you might be able to save the batch. Place all the jerky in a bag and seal tight. If there is just enough moisture in some of the bigger pieces, it tends to get sucked up by the crunchy pieces, making the batch just about right in terms of jerky texture. I don't recommend cooking the jerky until crunchy and the meat snaps in half instead of bends - just, life often happens right when the jerky needs to be cared for the most and next thing you know - its past the bendy stage and a little crispy. Jerky is done when there are no cool parts when handling the jerky. The jerky is dry to the touch and bendable. Store jerky in a sealed container or plastic bag only once it is completely cooled.

The jerky in this picture is actually a little on the crispy side - however, when placed in a sealed bag over night, the little bit of remaining moisture redistributed, making some of those crisp pieces soften up to just the right consistency.

Jerky may be stored in a sealed container or plastic bag for up to 2-weeks at room temperature if dried properly. To preserve freshness and extend shelf-life, store jerky in sealed bag or container in the refrigerator or freezer.

We hope that you enjoy this recipe! Feel free to add comments or ask questions by becoming a member of our website.

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