Friday, 2 May 2014

Venison jerky

 Curing and drying meat is an easy and delicious preservation method. Examples of this process can be found from all over the world; from jerky in North America to kilishi in West Africa, and from biltong in South Africa to bresaola in Italy.

Any cut of meat can be cured for jerky, but I'd argue that it would probably be a waste of sirloin were you to turn it in to jerky. My jerky was made from venison flank offcuts that I was given whilst working at a stag do at Hunter Gather Cook foraging and wild food school down in Lewes. I've been doing some freelance work for HGC since January this year and have thoroughly enjoyed it - they've got a great set up there, complete with a newly built double-decker treehouse! I couldn't recommend their courses enough, be it a seasonal day course or a stag do with a difference.

For more information, check out the link below; (click 'About > The Team' for my brief biog)

www.huntergathercook.com




Jerky and biltong are not the same;

  • Biltong is traditionally cut thicker, so has a higher moisture content than jerky
  • Biltong is preserved in vinegar, jerky is cured in salt
  • Jerky is sometimes smoked, biltong never is

*As biltong has a higher moisture content it has a shorter shelf life: www.Jim'sJerky.com suggests 3 months for biltong and 6 months for jerky




A note on whether to cut with or against the grain:

When researching jerky recipes and drying techniques I found conflicting opinions on whether to cut with or against the grain of the meat. I think the reason for this stems from the method in which you dry your jerky;


  • If you are hanging it, it would be preferable to cut with the grain of the meat, particularly if it's a lean piece of meat - the strips have a tendency to fall apart if cut against the grain
  • If you are drying your jerky on a flat surface, either in a purpose-built dehydrator or just in a low oven, it would be preferable to cut against the grain as the meat tends not to fall apart and is easier to eat when cut against the grain (particularly when using a sinewy piece of meat such as the venison flank used here)



Ingredients:

- ~20 pieces of venison flank
- 3½ tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
- 1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp mustard powder
- ½ tsp onion powder


Clean the venison pieces, trying to get rid of as much fat and excess skin as possible, as these will cause the jerky to spoil. Cut in to strips against the grain of the meat. Mix the venison with the rest of the ingredients and leave in the fridge overnight. Dehydrate at around 60/70ÂșC, turn when necessary (this can also be done in a low oven).


So what was it like? Mouth-wateringly salty, sweet, spiced, chewy goodness. It really is so simple to make and tastes a million dollars. Needless to say, this batch didn't even last the week...







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