For the next few days, my house will be in preparation mode. Preparation for Josh’s annual hunting trip. We’ll be ripping open boxes in the basement, cursing ourselves for packing away all the wool socks during our glee as the first blade of brown grass peeked through the snow in May. Why don’t we label the boxes? We have at least 25 sharpies lying around the house. How hard is it? Hard enough that we don’t do it. We’ve got to track down all the Hot Hands so that he doesn’t lose a finger, find the fleece-lined jeans and camo bibs, and make sure he has enough quarters for the pay-per-use showers at one of the nearby campgrounds. Yes, that is really a thing.
I cook, too. In past years, I have made pans of lasagna, cinnamon rolls and 7-layer bars. As the years go by, I make less and less and send Josh to the grocery store for a jar of salsa and family-sized bag of tortilla chips. They’re only 25 minutes from a real town, so if they really need more than that, they can make a run. Now that we have a house and a dog and a kid, I find it harder to devote a day to preparing main dishes that require little to no refrigeration. This year, I found time to make an apple pie and venison jerky. With this jerky, I am killing two birds with one stone: Sending Josh with some food, and making room in the freezer should his trip be successful.
I don’t have a dehydrator, so I used my oven to dry the meat. Either will work fine. The marinade used here can be used for beef or pork jerky as well. If you like a little more heat, amp up the amount of pepper. I tend to favor sweet when it comes to venison, but Josh commented that he would have liked more pepper. Keep in mind that the cut of meat does matter. If you use a cut that is tough, unless slow cooked or braised, it isn’t a great choice for jerky . I used a venison roast that we had tucked away in the back of the freezer. Once the meat had been dried, it can be kept at room temperature for up to two weeks, but I keep mine in the fridge because I am a nut job when it comes to food safety.
- 1-2 pound venison roast
- ¼ cup ginger ale
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- Mix together marinade ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and set aside.
- Cut venison roast into 1/ 4 inch thin strips. It helps if you put the meat in the freezer for harden a bit before cutting. If your meat is already frozen, start cutting before it is fully thawed.
- Place the cut meat in the marinade, cover and refrigerate for 12-24 hours.
- If using a dehydrator, process the jerky according to the manufacturer's instructions. If using your oven, preheat to 175 degrees.
- Line one to two cookie sheets (depending on the amount of meat you have) with tin foil. Place a metal cooling rack on top of foil lined cooking sheets. Lay the meat out on the cooling racks and place in the oven.
- Cook the meat for anywhere from 3 to 8 hours. The amount of time needed to thoroughly dry the meat will depend on how thick your slices are and the texture you're going for. Start by checking the meat at the three hour mark. If you the strip begins cracks but doesn't break when your bend it, they are ready. If your strips are on the think side, it is going to take longer to dry the meat.
- Once you have reached the desired texture, turn your oven up to 275 degrees and cook for 10-15 minutes. This will help ensure that any remaining bacteria in the meat is killed. Store in an airtight container or in the fridge or freezer.