Wild game: Right time, enough time, to learn to make homemade venison jerky, in “Braising the Wild”

Jack Hennessy takes on homemade venison jerky, something you have time to do right now, in “Braising the Wild”

SHARE Wild game: Right time, enough time, to learn to make homemade venison jerky, in “Braising the Wild”
Homemade venison jerky. Credit: Jack Hennessy

Homemade venison jerky.

Jack Hennessy

Jack Hennessy continues his stay-at-home related theme in “Braising the Wild” this week with venison jerky. Admit it, if you have held off making jerky because of the time involved, now is the time.

Here is the recipe:

HOMEMADE VENISON JERKY There are several reasons to learn how to make your own jerky, one of them being that dehydrated meat has a longer shelf life, a valuable quality now more than ever. So whether you want to learn how to make a tasty snack out of the game in your freezer, or you want to possess the know-how for keeping meat edible outside a fridge for up to 6 months, here is a crash course on making venison jerky. EQUIPMENT YOU NEED Ideally, you want a dehydrator. Yes, you can do this in an oven, and a smoker would be your third option. Some even prefer the smoker over a dehydrator, as they enjoy that smoky flavor you won’t get with a dehydrator. Please know: While you can set your oven to low temperatures comparable to a dehydrator, you want a convection oven for constant, even airflow. A dehydrator has a fan (similar to a convection oven) that maintains an even airflow. If you don’t have that fan for even airflow (which is likely the case with your smoker), you may wish to rotate racks occasionally so meat dehydrates evenly. I use MEAT!’s 6-tray dehydrator with great success. TIME YOU NEED Depending on your preferred texture, the process takes 5-8 hours, though the meat needs to marinate for 24-48 hours. Basically, plan at least 3 days ahead of time. SHELF LIFE The drier the meat (meaning the longer you dehydrate it), the harder it will be to chew but the longer it’ll last, especially if vacuum sealed. Dry meat vacuumed sealed and stored in a cool, dry place can last up to 6 months, is my understanding. Because moisture is the basis for bacteria growth, the absence of it in jerky is why jerky will last in your cupboard for a long time. CUTS TO USE Some jerky makers prefer using a roast (from hind quarter) but I prefer trim, as I save roasts for other recipes. Trim could be the gristled meat between the ribs, or a segment from the front shank or shoulder. Ideally, you want to cut against the grain. Sometimes, especially when using trim, you can’t avoid cutting with the grain. Please know the jerky where you cut with the grain will have a far stringier texture when bitten. For size, try making sure your jerky slices aren’t any thicker than 3/8ths of an inch. Marinade ingredients: 46 ounces pineapple juice 20 ounces soy sauce 2 cups Bird Dog Whiskey Jalapeño Honey 1/2 cup liquid smoke 1/4 cup Mirin (Japanese sweet cooking rice seasoning) 1/4 cup rice vinegar 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil 1 bulb garlic, freshly chopped / minced 1 cup brown sugar Seasoning: Your favorite rub, lightly coated over jerky after it’s marinated (I used Jack’s Gourmet Seasoning for this batch) Mix marinade ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Turn off once brown sugar has dissolved and allow to cool. Cut venison against grain into 1/4- to 3/8-inch pieces and place in marinade once it’s cooled. Marinate for 24-48 hours (long time equals more flavor and more tender bites after dehydrating). Remove venison pieces from marinade and lightly sprinkle all sides with your favorite rub or seasoning. Set dehydrator to 160 and place venison inside. Dehydrate for 2 hours. Lower temperature to 145 or 150, dehydrate for approximately 4 hours, until your desired textured is reached. Allow to cool outside dehydrator before packaging for storage.

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