Saturday, November 23, 2013

Deer Jerky

Today the house is smelling like a meat curing station. You never know what Andy is going to be up to, but I can assure you if it has something to do with food, he's just as bad as I am. He'll keep on until he fixes it and then fixes it again like he wants it. My brother-in-law Don has been treating us to his deer summer sausage for a few years. The taste is incredible. I have no idea what blend of spices he uses, but it's a good one. Andy has had it on his mind to try his hand on it. Last weekend we were walking around Gander Mountain and he was checking out all the grinder and stuffing machines. Yesterday I came home from work and he had several pounds of ground deer meat mixed up with a counter-full of spices. He also asked me to test some jerky he had processing out in the little cottage kitchen. That got me thinking that I hadn't even posted our jerky. Wow. I have really been behind.
Like I've said in the past, there is nothing wrong with simple as long as it tastes good. There are too many things in life that are hard, we like to keep cooking good and easy. Many years ago Andy found Oster Jerky Seasoning. It's a nightmare to find now, but we have always liked the way the deer jerky came out using this blend. Just ask my niece Brookie (Brooklyn). She was over one day when the dehydrator finished a batch. She sampled a few pieces and liked it. When she got ready to leave she asked Andy if she could take some home. Of course! Well, he didn't realize her idea of some was almost all. She grabbed a gallon Ziplock bag and cleaned several trays out. That girl loves this jerky! My brother would have a fit if he knew what she did.

It reminded me of the times all of our kids would devour the jerky within a day or so of making it. These particular batches were made from sliced meat, not the ground variety. It was a painstaking process. Andy thought he'd teach the kids a lesson by making them help him on the whole process. I believe they ate it even faster. Lesson not learned. Now he hides it. Even from me!
We are fortunate to have a little room we call our "cottage" on our property. It's nothing fancy, but it's the perfect place to fix foods that are pretty strong smelling. It's where I banish him to when he decides to fix chittlins'. Whenever we fix anything that can get a little messy, we like to slit a kitchen garbage bag and lay it over our work area. We like to spray a light coating of oil on all of the dehydrator trays. It makes clean up easier and the jerky just pops right off.
 Mix the whole pack of the spice/cure mixes with 1 pound of ground deer meat. Blend well.
 Stuff the meat into the jerky press.
Extrude onto trays. This option created the flat strips. There is another fitting that will form sticks. However, one time Blair and I were awarded the task to finish some jerky Andy started. Our weak arms had a hard time extruding the meat and the kids kept calling them cat turds (sorry, but true story). They couldn't get enough of them and they were gone in no time flat, no matter how they looked.
 Fill tray and continue until all meat is pressed.

Set dehydrator to 165 degrees. We recommend checking at the five hour mark and go from there. You want to make jerky that has a nice chew and isn't overly dry. Last year we started taking the timer we use on our Christmas tree lights to program the dehydrator. This is perfect when we get a late start. We use this trick when dehydrating tomatoes also.
Be sure to store the jerky in Ziplock bags or an airtight container.

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