Yield: 1 Servings
|\N \N||See part 1|
Starting on one side, place the strips next to each other without overlapping and with all of the strips running in the same direction. Work the meat across until the layer is complete, without voids. Pat the surface, edges and corners down smooth and flat. Salt, molasses and pepper the surface as was done to the bottom of the pan to start. The second layer of meat is done the same, but it is ran perpendicular to the first layer.
Pat smooth, salt, molasses and pepper. Each additional layer is ran perpendicular to the layer before it. Continue layering the meat until it reaches to a level about 2" from the top of the pan. The last layer, or partial layer, gets the salt, molasses and pepper treatment as well.
This brining method will cure the meat in two days. Place the pan/s in the refer, cover and let sit undisturbed for the first day (refrigeration is not necessary if prepared in a cool climate 35-45F). After about 24 hours the meat should be 'turned' - Dig your hands in the pan and separate all of the strips, turning it over several times to get the meat redistributed into a random order. Mash the meat back down into the brining juices ( at this point the juice will be thin and watery) cover and let sit for another day. I usually taste the juice at this point - if it tastes too salty it can be rinsed with water, but it will not be as good. If the salt is right it will have a slightly sweet, peppery flavor. During this next day the meat will soak up the brine juices and when the meat is removed before smoking, it will have a 'candied' texture - sticky and pliable. There should be very little, if any, brine solution left in the pan. The meat will have soaked up the brine and be somewhat swelled up, as compared to the first turning.
Smokehousing the meat: The smoking process will require a smokehouse or smoking unit that is capable of maintaining 80-90F. If there is a small volume, piping the smoke from an external source will provide a cooler smoke, and a hot plate or a few briquettes/lump charcoal could provide the heat source. In a medium size unit (refrigerator size), a cast iron frying pan with chips set on a hot plate will work - although it may be difficult to maintain a constant temperature. The more volume, the easier it is to control the temperature. I would recommend that a fire be built and maintained throughout the smoking process, which will take from 48 to 70 hours - depending upon the thickness of the meat. The smokehouse that I use is medium - large (350) cu.ft., it will maintain a good smoky 80-100F with 2-3 half gallon milk jug sized pieces of wood burning. Use seasoned, barkless wood - your choice, I use red alder, apple, plum, cherry, oak, pear and some of the best I've ever done was with some 75 year old grape stumps. Citrus works good too.
Get the smokehouse going and rack or hang the meat while the temp becomes stabilized. If you rack the meat, place it *without* the pieces touching each other - just enough room to run a finger between the strips. Stainless 3/16" rod sharpened on both ends works good for hanging - again, leave some space between the strips. As you place the strips, run them through your thumb and index finger to squeegee off any excess brine. Before placing the racks or skewers into the smokehouse, coarse black pepper or additional red pepper flakes may be added - for those who like lotsa zip. Load the smokehouse and leave the door cracked open for the first couple hours, or until the surface of the meat has dried to the touch. Close the doors, poke the fire and keep an eye on the temps for a couple of days. Don't worry about the meat spoiling if the fire goes out. The meat is cured. It's said that the old timers used to make their jerky while they traveled. When they made camp at night they would hang the jerky over the campfire until dawn, when they broke camp they simply packed up the jerky and continued smoking the next night. This process takes about 4-5 days and is worth every minute. Probably the two most important items would be too much salt and too much heat. If you decide to try this method, I garr-own-tee you'll never find another piece of store bought jerky that even comes close.
A fellow carnivore. Posted to TNT - Prodigy's Recipe Exchange Newsletter by Vince & Rose Camacho <vcamacho@...> on Aug 27, 1997