It’s been about 12 hours since I set the eye of round in the marinade mix. Time to move these to the smoker! Mother Nature has not been kind to us as of late and this weekend is no exception. But we must forge ahead, afterall the reward is going to be well worth it.
After removing the beef slices from the marinade bags, I transfer them to my smoker racks. I’ve found that pulling the racks from the smoker and loading them up inside works best (especially when it’s snowing/sleeting). Additionally, I lay down a few pieces of wax paper to make clean-up a bit easier. Take care to lay out the pieces as flat as possible, ensuring that they cook evenly. I have four racks in my smoker, which fits about 4 lbs. of sliced eye of round.
An electric smoker is really the way to go for jerky. It gives you the precise temperature control that you need when drying out beef like this. Too warm and you’ll torch the meat, not enough heat and you risk bacteria growth. This is why you’ll see my trusty Masterbuilt electric smoker in the following photos.
Food Safety Disclaimer: Some people will tell you that jerky was meant to be “cold smoked”. But I belive that actually cooking the meat is vital to avoid the growth of bacteria. Yes, I know, there are preservatives out there to help with this but even so, I still think it is too risky for the home cook; and I can’t recommend it. That’s why you’ll see me cooking my meat and raising it to a certain temperature relatively quickly. Also, this means that my jerky is refrigerated. I can’t say for sure how long it keeps because my family and I eat it within 48 hours. It’s that damn good.
Since I have no desire to get up and close with Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria monocytogenes I set my electric smoker to 175 degrees fahrenheit and place all four racks of sliced beef inside. For smoking, any hardwood will do. Today, I am going with a mixture of hickory and wine barrel chips. Have some fun with this part and try out a bunch of different combos to find what you like. Since we are essentially dehydrating the meat, I will be leaving the waterpan out of the smoker. Cook times are going to vary based on the thickness of your slices along with how much you are smoking at one time. My smoker is loaded with about 4 lbs. of beef this time around so I’m guessing it’s going to take around 7 hours or so. Regardless, I have my meat thermometer on hand to be sure that I hit 165 degrees internal temperature. Again, I am not curing this meat so I need to get it up to at least 165 degrees Fareinheight and store it in the fridge when I’m done. If you’re looking to re-create the store bought stuff that sits on a shelf next to the cashier at the grocery store, then you’ll have to find another blog post.
7 hours later and we have jerky perfection! What I look for besides, the 165 degree temp are the white strings within the meat as you bend a perfectly done piece. I personally like a bit more crunch to my jerky so I’ll let it go a bit longer. Either way, what you have in the end is a healthy snack that can not be replicated by any major store brand. Enjoy!