Hamburger vs Sliced Beef Jerky, The Winner Is…
There are two usual materials used for beef jerky, extra lean ground beef and slices of lean cuts of beef.
I have made both and each has its merits. I tend towards sliced beef but I always wondered if it was the seasonings or that particular smoke.
I was recently in Spokane, Washington to watch a hockey game and went to the local Cabela’s. They had a variety pack of jerky seasonings on sale so I decided to give it a try. There were original, teriyaki and pepper blends. This post is made with the original blend.
My second decision was to split a batch in half with half done with ground beef and half with slices of bottom round.
I put 2 1/2 pounds bottom round in the freezer for two hours to make it easier to slice.
While it was chilling, I mixed 2 1/2 pounds of extra lean ground beef, 1/2 the seasoning packet, 1/2 of the cure packet and 1/4 cup of cold water. I mixed it thoroughly by hand for 4 minutes.
I put 1/4 of the beef on a sheet of wax paper and covered it with another sheet of wax paper. I used a rolling pin to roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick. I removed the top piece of wax paper and cut it into serving size pieces. I put the rack of my dehydrator on the beef and turned it all over. I peeled the last of the wax paper off. I repeated for the remaining ground beef.
You can do the jerky to completion in a food dehydrator or your oven set to 180 F. Alternatively, you can dry the jerky in a smoker set to 180 F.
I like some smoke but not a lot on my jerky. So, I put it in my dehydrator for one hour to set it up. Then, I put it in my Bradley Smoker set at 180 F with hickory pucks. I smoked it for one hour and then back into the dehydrator to finish. I checked it every hour and removed pieces as the dried to a leathery consistency.
While the ground beef jerky was drying, I sliced the chilled bottom round to about 1/8 inch thick. I mixed it thoroughly with the remaining cure, seasonings and 1/4 cup water. I put the beef in the fridge overnight to cure.
The next day, I put it in the dehydrator for an hour. Then the Bradley Smoker at 180 F over hickory smoke for an hour and then back into the dehydrator. Again, I tested every hour.
First, I will comment on the Cabela’s Original Jerky Seasonings. This is a good quality product. It has a nice spice mix without burning and isn’t too salty. I have had better jerky but this is very good and is so convenient that I will buy it again.
As for the battle between ground beef and slices, ground beef has a good chew but isn’t as chewy as the slices. I really like the leathery texture of the slices. On the other hand, extra lean ground beef is a lot cheaper.
For quality, I prefer the slices. The cheap old guy in me prefers the price of the ground beef.
The Old Fat Guy.