Cast Iron Pans Cast iron pan owners swear by them for their even dispersal of heat and non stick nature. However, iron is not as happy go lucky as other metals. Initially, the pan must be seasoned with vegetable oil in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for at least an hour. Each time you heat the pan with oil, it will season till it obtains a beautiful dark color. Don't wash off the black patina thinking it is dirty. In fact, never use soap or scour the pan or you will remove the essence of the pan. Dry your iron pan on the stove with medium heat but watch it so it doesn't burn.
My Favorite Pan My favorite pan is a twenty dollar cast iron pan. I remember vividly how my step-father coveted his iron pan and warned us about not using soap to clean it. Seasoned and maintained properly, an iron pan can last forever. It is better than any non stick pan and far more durable. It's thick base holds heat better than any pan in my arsenal and prevents food from burning by dispersing the heat.
This is one of my son's favorite dishes. He eats it hot out of the dehydrator, room temperature, cold and even mixed with rice. It's quite addictive with it's combination of savory, sweet and my combination of peppers. You'll never buy beef jerky at the supermarket ever again! All you get is over-processed meat that has lost all freshness. This jerky will tickle your senses with it's freshness!
I actually have two dehydrators. The first is my Oster Convection Oven which has an option for dehydrating. Technically, it is called a convection oven but it's really a fancy toaster oven. I just upgraded my kitchen so I also have a Viking Convection Oven which I have fallen in love with and also has a much larger capacity than the toaster oven. Either is fine for dehydrating homemade beef jerky. You can even smoke it if you like!
I read somewhere, a long time ago, about combining different peppers to create a holy trinity of peppery goodness. The trifecta of peppers includes white, black and red pepper. And, what better dish to test out this tongue tingling combination than with a dish that screams pepper. Whoever passed on that tidbit of knowledge to me can only thanked by knowing he helped me create this awesome beef jerky recipe.
I read a lot of beef jerky recipes before I came up with my own unique jerky marinade which includes soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder and, of course, the trio of peppers. The sesame oil is the most unique ingredient, acting as a catalyst for the ingredients to absorb into the meat and also imparting a subtle nutty flavor to the jerky. Be careful when you purchase sesame oil, making sure you get 100% pure sesame oil. This is a ploy by manufacturers to make more money off a cheaper product so consider yourself warned.
Don't forget to note my well used crank pepper mill. There's no comparison to those battery operated jobs, allowing me to easily adjust the grind to any size but especially extra large cause I absolutely love pepper! I love crunching down on a large piece of pepper :)
Whisk together all the ingredients till the brown sugar and other ingredients are incorporated. Set the marinade aside while we talk about the beef. I use a flank steak because it is lean but I have read many people like bottom round or london broil, which is from the same cut as bottom round. Fat turns rancid quickly so you want to avoid a fatty piece of meat. While all meat has some fat content, starting with a lean cut of meat is easier to render out the fat and preserve it properly.
To slice with the grain or against it, that is the question. There are arguments for both types of preparation. I prefer with the grain so I get a chewier jerky that tends to hold together better when pounded. Slicing with the grain also gives you the option for longer strips on a flank steak, if you so choose. Once you have sliced the meat to about a quarter inch thickness, pound it with meat pounder/tenderizer to about twice the width. If you like your jerky really thin, you can slice thinner and pound out more but I like hearty jerky.
Place the jerky slices into a Ziploc bag, whisk the marinade one more time and pour over the meat. There's nothing worse than opening your bag the next day to find pieces of jerky not marinaded so I place each slice of jerky in the bag individually. When the meat sticks together, the marinade doesn't seep in between the pieces. I try not to lay the strips flat or uniform like every other piece which seems to help. In addition, squish and mash the bag once it has been closed to get marinade on every piece of meat. Place the meat in the fridge overnight and flip whenever you think of it.
The next day, place the jerky on a Cooling Rack inside a Jelly Roll Pan to catch all the drippings and dehydrate at 200 degrees for 3 hours or until the jerky is done. This is the best part, tasting it to make sure it is done... lol.
The meat will shrink to about half the size when done. This visual indicator, including the dark color of the meant will tell you the meat is ready to cool. Once cooled, make sure to press the meat firmly between paper towels to remove any fat and sesame oil that remains.
I package my jerky using a FoodSaver so I don't have to refrigerate if I keep it a long time. It also makes it a nice package to hand out to your friends. I also use my FoodSaver to prolong the life of meats in the refrigerator or freezer and even marinade faster. FoodSaver has special bags with a cotton barrier just for marinading. I highly recommend this indispensable kitchen tool.