Cowgirl Beef (Oven Dried Peppered Beef Jerky)

Over the years I have to say I have never been a fan of beef jerky. Its salty, leathery and expensive. Spending five bucks for a pouch of leather just never made sense to me. Chunk buys it now and again and usually just the smell makes me gag. In the past month I have set off a new way of thinking about food. I decided that I would eat only whole foods for 30 days. The quickie explanation is no processed foods, legumes, beans, grains, sugar or dairy. I am eating mostly meat, eggs and vegetables. For me that’s not really much of a stretch from what I usually eat. I usually do like beans and I love Ramen pasta and homemade sourdough bread.  Not being able to enjoy my homemade yogurt kind of sucks. The big change for me is adding meat. I’ve spent years re-thinking what we should be eating, and we do eat primarily unprocessed traditional meals. It is a constant process and our patterns change much like the tides. I eat kimchi and eggs fairly often, my idea of food IS usually whole food.

Snacks aren’t a go to for me however, I do find that late at night I adore munching on whatever little Connor brings to me. Whether its raisins and peanuts, or his beloved crackers and bananas, the kid shows up when I’m at my weakest. This is where I go wrong. At first this kind of irritated me but after a week I found that my energy was better, after two weeks I honestly was not really hungry. I no longer had the urge to steal his food. An early afternoon snack is what I reach for instead of breakfast or lunch. I happened to be stuck out one day and I was hungry. After really setting my mind to caveman eating for the whole 30 days, I thought about posts I’d read specifially about paleo snacks. Sniffing around Joyful Abode and Paleo Parents I realized, jerky is the sh-stuff and I should just I give it a chance. I grabbed a pouch of some alright jerky and that’s all she wrote.
The concept is 100% dummy proof. You grab meat, any meat you want and dry it. (turkey, salmon, beef, venison whatever) Drying meat and fish is an age old tradition, and dried beef and game using only salt is A-Ok. Using flavors is just an embellishment. If you want jerky, the for-real-leathery-jerky, the meat to choose is where you can go wrong. For the first batch I had only seen Alton Brown’s recipe. Using flank steak would have cost a fortune so I grabbed a chuck roast, butterflied it and cut it into thin strips. The chuck worked great however man meat said it was like “the dry pot roast no one wants to eat,” (“Don’t you AVOID drying out the pot roast?”) It was super good, but not jerky in a traditional sense. I actually loved it because it was kind of like pot roast on the go. It didn’t taste like a salt lick, and it had no additives. Round two: Stepehen’s taunts wrecked my thoughts so I looked and looked some more and this is when I came across the Paleo Parents recipe. So this time I used London Broil. Although I opted not to use the mandoline it came out wicked thick, but really well. (again less like meat leather, more like dried supper) Extra dry, and inconsistent sizes means some pieces are crunchy, some are leathery. I’m good great with this, meat chips anyone? For leathery and thin be sure to find yourself a mandonline. Marinated in fish sauce, hot sauce, and soy sauce it’s a lean, flavorful protein boost! Cowgirl (or boy) beef is perfect for a late lunch ritual, or a snack on the go. This time, I don’t intend to share. 

Oven Dried Peppered Beef Jerky
I don’t have a dehydrator but I do have a mandoline. I haven’t used it for jerky yet, I wanted to make this recipe with no special doodads. To make super thin jerky you will want to freeze your meat whole for 30-45 minutes, then slice it using a mandoline. (Much like when you make homemade bacon) For beef jerky use what you can afford and whats available,  two whole London Broils made a big bag of jerky that will last me weeks. Half of the amount of skirt or flank steak costs the same and it will result in a much, much smaller quantity. Chuck roast, or whatever else works but you want something that is not uber fatty. Don’t try drying out tenderloin. The delicious fatty marbling is what makes it good, if you dry it you will be rendering out the love. 
2 pounds beef
3/4 cup tamari, or Coconut Aminos
1/4 cup hot sauce, (cayenne pepper sauce or sriracha)
1/4 cup fish sauce, sugar free if available
LOTS of black pepper, fresh grated ginger, garlic and/or other spices as desired
Slice meat into thin strips. (As thin as possible.) Combine tamari, hot sauce and fish sauce. Add some spices as you would like. Marinate overnight. Remove beef from liquid and place onto an even layer on a baking tray lined with a drying rack. Sprinkle with additional black pepper and place into a 175 degree oven for 5-6 hours or until dried. This will vary according to how thinly you managed to slice your meat. If you want it crunchier dry it longer, If you want the chew be sure to check it after 4 hours.
Sweetener Of Choice- I added honey to my first batch and found that it did not really add much sweetness. For teriyaki style jerky add brown sugar, coconut sugar, or whatever type of non-liquid sweetener you would like. I say non-liquid only because I feel that the liquid sweetener does not penetrate the same. 
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