Monday, April 24, 2006

Making Beef Jerky in the Smoker

Q: Have you ever tried smoking jerky? If so, what is your method and/or tips?

A: It is not something I do often but I have done it and I have to tell you that it is very tasty but you have to be careful to not over-smoke the jerky. The meat is so thin that it gets plenty of smoke flavor in just a couple of hours.

I like to smoke for a couple of hours in the smoker and then transfer to the oven (if my wife allows me to) or the dehydrator.

The best way to do jerky in the oven or the smoker is to hang the jerky on the rack using toothpicks.. push a toothpick throught the meat and this allows the meat to hang right on the rack.. you can fit a lot of jerky in a small space this way. Make sure the jerky is not touching each other, however, that only requires about 1/4 inch spacing or so.

The best jerky I have made has been the kind that I just salt and pepper and let the smoke do the rest of the flavoring.

Most recipes will tell you to use extremely lean meat (which is expensive) however, I have had pretty good success with flank steak as well as brisket. I remove the visible fat and then freeze the meat for an hour or two to help it slice better. I then cut it into 1/4 inch thick slices.

Smoke it at the lowest temperature possible.. this may require leaving the door of the smoker open a little. 140 degrees is optimum since you are not trying to cook the meat, you are trying to dry it.

If you have a gas smoker then you can apply wood chips for the first couple of hours and then just use heat for the remaining time.

A good batch of jerky can take 10 to 12 hours to complete.. you are looking for jerky that cracks slightly when you bend it but does not break.

Visit for hundreds of great tutorials and guides on smoking meat.

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