For some reason known only to Harper’s Other Dad, the arrival of autumn turns a young (ahem) man’s fancy to beef jerky. A couple of years ago he discovered a website and podcast called The Art of Manliness. I’m not a fan of the podcast but the site is interesting. Where else can one find discussions of the ‘lessons in manliness found in The Hobbit’, ‘how to pick out aviator sunglasses’, or ‘how to shave with a straight razor’. All I knew about straight razors before reading that article was that “Bad Bad Leroy Brown” kept one in his shoe. In November of 2012 they posted an article called “How to Make the Best Beef Jerky in the World“. Harper’s Other Dad likes the stuff and I have more time to make than he does so……
I’m somewhat challenged in this jerky-making endeavor because we don’t own a dehydrator. Hah! What care I for modern conveniences and specialized equipment! This is Arizona, a land of rugged independence. It’s cowboy country. I’ll make it the way the early
white European invaders settlers did. So I got in my covered Honda Accord and set out on the arduous and perilous quest for beef. After fighting my way past hostile Indian casinos and through the ravages of expressway interchanges clogged with predatory snow birds, I survived to capture a 5-pound brisket at Costco. That’s when the real work begins.
I sliced the raw meat as thinly as one can with what passes for a sharp knife in Casa de Harper’s kitchen. For those who have not experienced cutting a 5-pound slab of bloody, raw meat into thin strips, be warned. It is not quite as much fun as it sounds like it would be. I made the marinade of spices and many liquids, all of them brown, and then steeped the meat in it for 24 hours; in the refrigerator, of course, as we are pioneers.
After the marinating period had passed, and continuing in the spirit of frontier manliness, I preheated the oven for 175*F and let the strips of meat dry in it for 5-6 hours. The recipe calls for a 160*F oven but the only setting below 175*F on my oven is “Off”. What can I saw? Life can be tough for pioneers on the wild west side of 45th Street and we have to make do. At the end of the process, all the moisture, and the bacteria therein, has fled the meat strips and they are ready to
gnaw on enjoy.
After that there is only one step remaining. Harkening back to those thrilling days of yesteryear, while whistling “Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darling“, I start the self-cleaning cycle on the oven…just like Laura Engels Wilder must have done.
I’m still not entirely sure I understand the connection between making beef jerky and manliness. Maybe it’s like a phobia or a fetish; one can empathize but if you don’t feel it, you don’t really get it.
I read you story to Nicky and Nora my little WireHair Dachshunds, their eyes had that fierce far away look and they were licking their chops like the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. They can be very helpful in the kitchen. But the mere mention of raw meat brings out the ancient Hunting Dachshunds instinct in them. Then I thought, wait a minute, I read your story before in the Book of Roman Catholic Saints, You are St-David of Phoenix, virgin and martyr. I do hope that the Spo guy appreciates all your manly efforts on his behalf. Though I wonder what are they thinking at the Office when he greats people and he is chewing a great big piece of beef jerky.
I guess I can finally give up that ‘virgin’ thing now. I’ve been saving myself for marriage so I guess I’ve run out of excuses.
‘Martyr’, on the other hand, is a life-style choice.
now I don’t eat much beef (save for the occasional philly cheesesteak), but this looks dee-lish! you are a man of many talents!
If you want an oven that goes that low get a convection toaster oven. They’re less than a hundred bucks and they go down to about 150F. Plus the convector helps to evaporate moisture.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Good suggestion. Convection would definitely be a plus. The problem with a toaster oven is capacity. I had to do two batches in a full size oven. At 6 hrs per batch it would take days to make it in a toaster oven. If I want to get serious about it I should buy a dehydrator but we only make it a 2-3 times per year.
Well you may find the timing reduced considerably on the convector toaster ovens. And in many of them you can fit a small turkey so they’re pretty large.
Good point – thanks
“He’s washin’ dishes and clothes
He’s so ambitious, he even sews
But don’t forget folks, that’s what you get folks
For makin’ jerky.”
You no have to jerky no more. You can marry the young (ahem) man and quit livin in sin. Congratulations Arizona. Now make him make you a legal Someone.
You mean, now that we can marry, we have to give up living in sin? Wait a minute….
Wouldn’t the best time to make jerky be summer? You could just leave
the raw strips of meat in the Arizona sun to dry like HOD’s tomato
There’s an idea there. IF there were some kind of container or enclosure that would keep away the critters but still let the moisture evaporates. My fear is it would a dinner bell for hawks and coyotes.
Chicken wire enclosure.
I bet Harper would love some.
She likes it more before it’s dried than after but she’s never far from the kitchen when the process is underway. She knows that gravity is her friend and anything that hits the floor is hers.
It’s a toss up which one of us loves it more: Harper or I.
I think it has to do with women not being thrilled with thinly slicing bloody raw meat! HAHAHAHA I personally LOVE beef jerky, and both Bear and Bull helped me finish it off every time I had some.