While I was brainstorming ideas for foods wot to bring with us on our flights, I kept coming up with jerky and I kept having to sigh and move onwards. See, the problem with most jerky that I can get around here is that a) they all use soy sauce, b) they all have at least one nightshade spice, and c) if it’s grassfed, it’s about 100x out of our budget. So, like most things for AIP, I decided to see if I could make it myself.
After reading ten+ different recipes, I realized it was actually really easy to do. Basically, you take some meat, cut it really thin, marinate it for a day, then dehydrate it. I wasn’t sure exactly how to slice the meat so thin, but then I came across someone who had used a mandoline. Bingo!
They advised freezing the meat first, but didn’t also include that it helps to let the meat thaw slightly before you try to cut it. I ended up with just teeny slivers at first. But then we let it thaw on the counter for an hour and it worked just fine.
Our marinade was simple – just some salt, red wine vinegar, black pepper, and cumin (not for strict AIP) – but there are tons of more interesting and convoluted marinade recipes out there. After the strips sat in those juices for a good 12 hours, we put the oven on as low as possible and left them overnight.
Because the mandoline still sliced them so thin, they had this amazing melty effect in the mouth. Even with minimal seasoning they were really delicious and perfect for our travels.
Super Simple Homemade Beef Jerky (in the Oven)
1-2lbs lean steak, like flank or eye of round (fattier pieces have to be more thoroughly trimmed)
Sharp knife / mandoline
Red wine vinegar 1/4-1/2 cup
Garlic powder (optional)
Onion powder (optional)
Trim your meat of any fat you can. If you leave the fat on, be aware that your jerky won’t last as long since the fat will eventually go rancid. Once trimmed, stick that meat in the freezer for 2+ hours.
When you remove your meat, test to see how solid it is. If you could win a fight with it, let it thaw for up to an hour. You want it to be pretty solid, but just beginning to be pliable. This will make it easier to slice.
Cut it into 2-3” wide chunks for easier slicing. Keep an eye on the grain – for tougher jerky, you will be slicing with the grain. For meltier jerky, go against. Then, begin to slice. If using the mandoline, use the finger guard – or be ready to grow back a thumb. Also be careful as you throw your slices into a dish for marinating, because the mandoline makes them super thin. This won’t be as much of a problem with a basic knife. Just be sure it’s sharp first.
When your meat is thoroughly sliced, pile it all in one dish or plastic baggy and add your spices and red wine vinegar. Make sure you have at least a 1tbsp of salt in there and a 1/2tbsp pepper, but otherwise season to your heart’s content. Or look up another marinade recipe and go crazy. Just make sure the liquid covers the meat – if it’s in a dish, I usually add a little water to make this happen and better stir around the spices.
Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. Up to 24 is fine.
Now, pick an evening and turn your oven to it’s lowest setting. Ours goes to 170, which worked fine. Be aware that the thicker the cut, the longer this will take. For the mandoline sliced meats, they were perfectly crispy within 8 hours. Spread them out thinly on a pan with parchment paper or one of those super awesome baking mats. Make sure the vent for your oven is uncovered (lets the moisture escape better), then put them in and go to bed.
Wake up to delicious jerky! But be sure to let it cool and finish drying before you pack it away.