Hunting season is just around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about what you are going to do with this year’s kill.
You can find some truly delicious wild game recipes out there, but what really excites us here at Bradley Smoker is jerky! There’s a reason why food smoking dates back to our primitive ancestors. The fact that it has withstood the test of time (and a lot of it) says something right there. Jerkying is perhaps the very best way to process wild game. It’s very useful, delicious and the process is a lot of fun.
If you have never smoked meat before, don’t let that thought discourage you. The process is simple. All you need is a sharp knife, a food smoker and some savory ingredients.
Before we get into the seasoning and smoking processes, there are a few important field dressing guidelines worth mentioning. Remember, quality meals start with food preparation.
Field Dressing (right after the kill)
- Only cut through the skin
- Be careful not to puncture the stomach
- If you spill any urine or feces onto meat, wash it away immediately with water
- Place bag of ice inside chest cavity to help keep carcass cool
Start with chilled meat so that it’s easier to cut. You’ll be grateful later. Trim all excess fat from the edges of the meat. Slice your meat with the grain, not against the grain. Cut your pieces thin, then pound with a mallet.
Curing & Seasoning
In a large bowl, combine the ingredients of your favorite curing recipe and stir until well blended. Garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, nutmeg, ginger and other spices are commonly used. When ingredients are dissolved, put bowl in the refrigerator and chill well.
Later, add strips of meat and stir using your fingers until all of the meat is covered. Put back in refrigerator. Over the next few hours, stir meat occasionally. Refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, strain the liquid from the meat using a colander. You do not want to rinse the meat.
Smoking Your Jerky
Prepare your smoker with your preferred smoking chips or bisquettes, enough to last 6 to 8 hours. You can hang the strips of meat, place them on the rack or put them in a wire-mesh smoking basket. Leave the damper wide open and do not add water to the drop bowl. Bring temperature to 140-160°F and let cook until completely dry.
When done, your jerky should be about half the thickness it was when raw, and about half the weight. When you bend it, a few of the muscle fibers should fray. This is normal. If it breaks, then it will have a longer shelf life, however, it will not be as tasty.You may want to flip over the meat strips every 45 minutes or so to prevent them from sticking to the rack or wire-mesh basket.
There you have it! If you think your jerky needs more salt, go ahead and add a teaspoon to the curing mixture. Bradley Smoker offers many jerky curing options for wild game so check out some of our other recipes!
Good luck and happy hunting this season!