What are you going to do with all that leftover deer meat? Yes, you can make a boatload of chili or stew, but what about jerky? If you've never tried it, venison jerky has a rich, earthy flavor. The meat seems to hold the essence of all the herbs the deer consumed while it was alive.
Of course, you can make jerky with any lean meat; venison jerky is a great way to enjoy the unique taste and texture of deer meat and make it last longer. It doesn't take much to make your own jerky. If you have a dehydrator - great, but an oven works just as well.
The History of Jerky
Who made the first jerky? It's likely that many hundreds of years ago, the first jerky (using buffalo meat) was created by Native Americans as a way to preserve meat for the long winter when hunting would have been more difficult. The Europeans who emigrated to the New World soon found that the Native Americans had a method of drying meat that meant it didn't need to be eaten right away. No doubt, they passed on their knowledge to the New Worlders.
Other accounts trace it back to the ancient Egyptians who laid various meats out in the sun to dry. The expertise of the Egyptians to preserve things is demonstrated by what archaeologists have found in the Egyptian tombs.
More recently, it has been said that the Spanish discovered jerky in South America during the 1500s. Descendants of the Inca empire, the Quechua tribe, called it Ch'arki (meaning dried or burned meat) - which is where we've derived the word jerky. An interesting fact about early jerky is that it included the animal's bones, not just the neat meat strips we have today.
Jerky grew in popularity during the North American expansion as traders and explorers placed a high value on this ingenious meat preservation method. These explorers traveled to areas where fresh food was limited or non-existent - jerky was literally a life-saver. Today, although we have the means to store fresh meat for as long as we would like, jerky is still a favorite treat all over the country.
A Quick & Easy Venison Jerky Recipe
Here is a quick and easy venison jerky recipe that you can prepare in your dehydrator or your oven.
1 lb boneless venison roast
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp liquid smoke flavoring
1 Tbsp ketchup
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp onion salt
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
- Slice the meat into long strips - 1 inch wide and ⅛ inch thick.
- Place meat slices in a large resealable plastic bag with Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, liquid smoke, pepper, onion salt, garlic powder, and salt.
- Close the bag.
- Refrigerate it overnight.
- Knead it occasionally, so the marinade is evenly distributed throughout.
To Use an Oven:
Preheat to 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Put a plan at the bottom of the oven or use aluminum foil to catch the drips.
To Use a Dehydrator:
Place the meat strips on the racks ensuring that they don't touch one another. The dehydrate for 6 to 8 hours, or until the strips reach the consistency you like.
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Spice Up (Or Down) Your Venison Jerky
Using a basic recipe, like the one above, will give you great jerky. But if you eat a lot of jerky and want to change it up a little, consider some of these other ingredients.
Black Pepper Jerky
This recipe uses lager or Amber ale to create this spicy jerky with coarsely ground and cracked peppercorns.
Kentucky Bourbon Jerky
Are you a whisky lover? This recipe incorporates the smooth, full flavor of whisky with a dash of brown sugar. If you try this one, you'll thank us.
Spicy Teriyaki Smoked Deer Jerky
This spicy recipe will make your mouth water. The only ingredient that you might not be as familiar with is the mirin. This rice wine adds a Japanese flavor that helps this jerky pair with other Asian foods.
Oven vs. Dehydrator
Being able to make your jerky in the oven instead of a dehydrator is exciting because it means homemade jerky is accessible to everyone. The issue with jerky is that it must cook evenly, which is hard to accomplish if you just lay it out over oven wire racks. Even with foil on the lower rack to catch the juices, it's still quite messy and doesn't guarantee an even cook.
The dehydrator offers more consistent results, but if you know how to use your oven, you can make some amazing jerky. When using an oven, consider hanging the meat strips lengthwise from the bars in the oven racks and propping the oven door open to avoid an accumulation of heat.
How long will venison jerky last?
Now that you've got your delicious venison jerky, and if you can manage not to consume all of it within a day - how long can it last?
- Venison jerky can last for up to a month in a cool, dry place at room temperature.
- It can last up to six months in the refrigerator.
- It can also last up to one year in a freezer.
The Final Word on Jerky
Venison jerky is a fantastic and delicious treat. You can purchase it or make it at home using various ingredients yielding a broad range of flavors. Jerky has a rich history and an even richer taste. Try making some for a culinary adventure.
Are you in the market for the best jerky around? Ours is grass-fed, gluten-free, and made in small-batches with unforgettable goodness. Check out Two Chicks Jerky for more information.