People who don’t like jerky are really in the minority. In some cases it is the result of trying someone’s product that is totally unchewable or so spicy that the only flavour is the spice, not the meat. Simple jerky is a cinch to make without any special equipment at all. It can be made in a smoker, barbecue, dehydrator, over a smudge fire or the simplest method is in your kitchen oven.

Jerky can be made from any kind of wild or domestic meat and this includes domestic fowl, waterfowl, grouse and ptarmigan. I do not include bear in this list because bear must be cooked to the “well-done” level as a health precaution and jerky is often done to a level less than “well-done.”

Whatever meat you use should be cut with the grain in slices about 5mm or 3/16” thickness. This is difficult as unfrozen meat often crumbles cutting these thin slices. Cut the meat when it is still semi-frozen or if thawed, just put it back in the freezer for ½ hour or so to stiffen it up for cutting. Allow complete thawing before brining as the brine cannot soak into frozen pieces.

Time in the brine is a “learn by doing” exercise and how this batch tastes will affect the flavouring and time in brine in the next batches. Brining can be as short as 2 hours, but 12 to 24 hours is the usual length of time. Flavouring will be more profound with a longer brining time and of course the amount of spices/flavourings you have included. If this batch was just too spicy/flavourful, use less next time or rinse the pieces briefly in water before the drying process.

Basic jerky recipes for 1½ to 2 pounds of meat:

#1

4 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
¼ tsp Tabasco
½ cup water

Mix ingredients and marinate meat 2 to 12 hours in the fridge.

#2

1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup soya sauce
¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
Sprinkle of seasoned salt

Mix ingredients and marinate meat for up to 24 hours in the fridge.

#3

Note: This preparation uses a dry brine with a middle eastern flavouring.

1 tsp salt
⅛ tsp pepper
1½ tsp coriander
¼ tsp chili powder
¼ tsp ginger
¼ tsp turmeric
⅛ tsp ground cumin

Mix all dry ingredients well. Spread meat slices on a flat surface, not touching one another.
Sprinkle dry mix on both sides of meat slices. Marinate in a sealed container 6 to 12 hours in the fridge.


All three of these recipes are suitable for using your oven. Set oven at lowest setting and prop the oven door open 1” or 2 cm with the handle of a wooden spoon. Lay meat right on the oven racks with the pieces not touching one another. Put tinfoil or a large cookie sheet on floor of oven to catch any drippings.

Products will be done in 4 to 12 or more hours, depending on temperature and/or wetness at start.
Check on progress and blot with a paper towel occasionally to remove beads of oil on surface.


Chicken fried bison steaks