Neil and I are very proud of our Moogarita, the cocktail we created using Canadian Beef for Kitchen Play’s February Progressive Menu. We love that it’s gotten people talking about the use of beef and beef stock in different ways.
But in our last post, with the focus on the drink itself, a key component may have been overshadowed: the jalapeno & lime beef jerky.
We created the homemade jerky as a garnish for the Moogarita but quickly realized that this recipe should not be treated as an after-thought. This jerky is worth making and not just to be used as a garnish.
It’s delicious. It’s full of lean protein. It’s packed with a ton of flavor. And it’s an awesome snack.
I never considered making beef jerky at home. I’ve barely ever touched the packaged stuff. It was always a hot item on the craft table of many television sets I’ve worked on and I never understood why. (Hungry crew like meat in any form, I guess!) But the packaged version doesn’t even compare to a homemade one. It’s a different ball game altogether.
To create our recipe for jalapeno & lime beef jerky, we recipe-tested a few times to get the ingredients and technique just right. That meant eating quite a bit of homemade beef jerky and I think I got addicted in the process.
This jerky is packed with such a punch of flavor! You can really taste the jalapeno, not just the spice and heat, but the flavor of the pepper itself. You can even smell it as the jerky is drying in the oven. It kind of taunts you as you patiently wait for it to be done…
The first batch we made used more lime juice and less brown sugar and we found it too be a little too tart. We also cooked the first batch on a higher heat at 200 degrees and realized it probably needed to cook slower on a lower heat.
We had a lot of fun testing and coming up with the final recipe and I really encourage people to try making beef jerky at home whether you use this homemade version or another. Making it yourself ensures you know just what’s going into it. You can control the salt and sugar and feel good about eating a snack that’s preservative-free.
So in an effort to give this little recipe a shot at the limelight (bad pun but I’m going with it), I thought I’d post it again with a little bit more detail on how it came together.
Jalapeno & Lime Beef Jerky
3/4 lb flank steak
1 jalapeno, half of seeds discarded, chopped
1/3 C fresh lime juice
1/2 C tequila
1/4 C tamari soy sauce (or regular soy)
4 Tbs brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
Slice beef against the grain, into long, thin strips. The butcher we got the beef from actually gave us this handy tip: put your meat in the freezer about an hour before cutting it. It’ll be easier to slice.
In a large bowl, whisk together lime juice, tequila, tamari soy, brown sugar, salt and pepper until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the jalapeno with the seeds.
Place beef strips in a glass baking dish (or other non-reactive receptacle) and pour marinade overtop.
Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours.
We marinated ours overnight and by morning the beef was very dark and almost looked somewhat cooked.
Preheat oven to 175 C. Remove marinated beef from the fridge, and place slices on paper towel. Remove any jalapeno seeds stuck to the beef if you want a milder beef jerky or keep them in for some nice heat. Using more paper towel, pat the pieces of beef to remove excess liquid.
Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Arrange beef slices flat on sheet without overlapping.
For our Moogarita garnish we wanted the jerky to have a nice polished, stylish look so we twisted each piece as we placed them on the baking sheet. But you can leave them flat for a more traditional look.
Sprinkle with sea salt and place in oven.
After 1.5 hours, remove the baking sheet and flip each piece of jerky over. Put back in the oven for another hour.
After another hour, check to see how dry the beef is, flip slices again, and put back in the oven for an additional 15-30 minutes, if needed. The goal is for the jerky to be as firm and dry as possible, without getting too brittle.
When sufficiently dried, remove jerky from oven and let cool. The beef will dry further as it cools so make sure not to overcook/over-dry in the oven.
If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, you can store them in an air-tight container or sandwich bag in the fridge for a few days.