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Give Dad the gift of meat: Homemade beef jerky

Diana Johnson is a recipe developer, photographer, writer and the creator of Eating Richly Even When You're Broke. She is passionate about helping people learn to cook and eat foods rich in nutrition and flavor, even on a tight budget, a...

A meat treat for Father's Day

It's surprisingly easy to make your own beef jerky, with very little hands-on time needed in the kitchen. So go ahead and spoil Dad with his own supply of homemade beef jerky.

 Homemade beef jerky

Did you know you can actually make beef jerky in the oven? You don't really need any special tools — just a pan fitted with a rack of some sort. This Father's Day, you can treat Dad to an edible gift of homemade beef jerky. Pick one flavor, or make them all to create a variety pack.

 Homemade beef jerky

Start by trimming all the fat off a couple of steaks that are 1 inch to 1-1/2 inches thick. It's easiest to prep the meat if it's slightly frozen.

 Homemade beef jerky

Next, slice the steaks into strips less than 1/4 inch thick. The width of each strip will depend on the thickness of your steaks. Mine were 1 inch thick. Try to slice against the grain, meaning cutting through the little lines running side to side in the meat with each slice.

 Homemade beef jerky

Mix your marinade, and soak the meat in it for 4 to 12 hours in the fridge. The longer the meat soaks, the stronger the flavor it will have. I used reusable food storage containers, but you can also use zip-top plastic bags, squeezing out all the air.

 Homemade beef jerky

Line a baking pan or rimmed sheet pan with foil, and place a rack in the pan. Spread your marinated meat out on the rack in a single layer. If you prepared a variety like I did, you may want to use a permanent marker to write down the different flavors on the foil next to each section.

Turn the oven to its lowest temperature, warm or up to 200 degrees F. Cook the meat for 4 to 8 hours, until it has dried out but still seems a tiny bit chewy.

Keep the jerky in a Mason jar with the lid off. You can keep it on the counter safely for a few days or in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

 Homemade beef jerky

Homemade beef jerky recipe

Yields 30

Ingredients:

  • 2 top round or bottom round steaks, 1 to 1-1/2 inches thick and slightly frozen

Original marinade

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Spicy marinade

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Teriyaki marinade

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Instructions:

  1. Use a sharp knife to trim all the fat off the steaks, and then slice them against the grain into strips less than 1/4 inch thick.
  2. Mix together the marinade ingredients, and submerge the meat into the marinade, either in a food storage container or a zip-top plastic bag with the air squeezed out. Marinate the meat in the refrigerator for 4 to 12 hours.
  3. Spread the beef strips on a rack placed in a foil-lined baking pan or rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Bake the meat in the oven on the lowest setting, anywhere from warm to 200 degrees F. Bake for 4 to 8 hours, until the meat is quite dried out but still has a slight chewiness. The beef will dry out more as it cools.
  5. Store the jerky in a Mason jar without the lid on the counter for a few days or in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.

More Father's Day recipes

Father's Day tie cupcakes
Bacon bonanza for Father's Day
Steak brownie for Father's Day

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