It was time for me to try some really low temp cooking on the "K", and venture into the world of beef jerky.
I told my butcher what I wanted to do, and he brought out three "custom cut" flank steaks. He says that these are not the flank that we see in the supermarket (which are from the hindquarter), but instead these come from the front quarter. The meat was certainly tender while I was cutting it. Total weight of the meat: 6 lbs. ($48)
I froze the meat for about an hour to help firm it up a bit during cutting into 1/4" strips, but it really wasn't necessary... as I have very good, very very sharp knives. (I used a 12" Global chef's knife to do the slicing)
I let the strips marinate for 15 hours in a vacuum sealed bag in the refrigerator.
I put a 16" round pizza stone on the new lower brackets on my #7 K to act as a heat deflector. I put a 16" pizza pan on top of that as a drip pan.
I arranged about 1/2 of the meat on the 22" grill. Then I positioned the new upper bracket, and added an 18" grill as a second surface, and it got the rest of the meat. As you can see from the photos, there was plenty of room for more meat, perhaps another 2 lbs. could have been added without having meat overlapping.
The two grills together are very convenient, and it is cleaner and easier to use than using a couple of fire bricks to support the upper grill (as I had been doing).
There was easily room on the grill for more meat, so the 6 lbs of strips is a very comfortable amount to work with.
At 8am I lit a few coals, figuring that for low temp cooking/drying, I'd rather keep the fuel supply down, and tend to the fire more. I was able to keep the temperature down under 150 degrees for most of the time.
I used cherry wood for smoke, it has a mild flavor and a wonderful scent.
After about two hours, I turned the meat for the first time. I continued turning the meat every 2 or 3 hours, for a total of 10.5 hours cooking/drying time.
The upper bracket that supports the 18" grill worked out very well. I have a glass "cutting board" on my prep table beside the K, and the legs of the upper bracket fit well on it (protecting the wood of the tabletop).
So I was able to lift off the upper bracket/grill assembly, turn the meat on the main grill, then put the upper bracket back, and turn the meat on the top grill. It handles easily, so I'll be using it for ribs and just about anything else that will benefit from a multi-level setup.
I decided that I wanted results that were flexible and pliable, rather than stiff and hard. Because the meat was so tender to begin with, I wanted to carry on with that theme. I wasn't worried about the storage capability of the jerky... it won't last very long with all the people who want to taste it.
The 6 lbs. of meat yielded 3 lbs. of finished product.
The results are very good... the meat was tender... the outside glistened a bit (probably from the sugar and molasses). There is a sweetness and a nice bite. The photos above don't do it justice.
I brought some over to neighbors who have never tried jerky, and they were quite pleased with it. The flavors are complex and interesting, but not overpowering the beefiness.
I did some vacuum packing of the end product, small batches will make some nice gifts for neighbors and friends (if I can pry the jerky away from my sons).
I'd never made jerky before, and guessed at the ingredients for the marinade based on information from GFW, and doing searches on the net for jerky recipes. Basically it seems to come down to putting items into the marinade that you like... and let mother nature do the rest.
I'll be trying this again with some cheaper cuts of meat (I suspect that most folk don't make jerky from prime beef), but the tenderness of the finished product was very nice.
So, another day... another adventure on the K...
Another jerky adventure...
This time, I cooked 10 lbs of thinly sliced meat using cookie racks... the yield was a little over 4 lbs of jerky.
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