Skinned and boned thighs of the chicken are the best material for making chicken jerky. It is very easy to remove the bone from a chicken thigh. First, lay the thigh skin-side-down on a cutting board. Locate the bone with your fingers, and make a long slit through the flesh that is on top of the bone. Stroke along the bone with the tip of the knife. The flesh will gradually “peel” away from the bone. Remove the skin.
Preparing the meat
Prepare the thighs as indicated above. Rinse in cold water and drain.
Slice the flesh with the grain, or butterfly the meat.
The slices or butterflies should be not more than
1/4 inch (6 mm) thick.
Seasoning for 5 lbs. (2.25 kg) of Sliced Chicken
- 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) Bradley Honey Cure (Do not use more than this amount.)
- 4 tsp. (20 ml) pepper, black
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) hickory smoke flavor (optional)
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) cayenne
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) onion powder
- 1 tsp. (5 ml) poultry seasoning
- 6 Tbsp. (90 ml) soy sauce
- 1 1/2 cups (360 ml) white cranberry-apple juice or white cranberry-peach juice
- 4 cups (960 ml) cold water
Note: If the meat weighs either more or less than 5 pounds (2.25 kg), the amount of cure mix applied must be proportional to that weight. For example, if the weight of the meat is 2 1/2 pounds (1.15 kg), then each ingredient, including the Bradley Cure, needs to be cut in half.
- Stir the seasoning blend well until all ingredients are dissolved. Chill the mixture well. Add the meat strips and stir them from time to time, especially during the first few hours of curing. Refrigerate overnight.
- During the morning of the second day, use a colander (or the like) to drain the curing liquid from the meat. Do not rinse!
Drying and smoking the jerky
- Hang the strips, place the strips on smoker racks, or lay the strips in wire-mesh smoking baskets. (Wire-mesh baskets are preferable; hanging the strips will allow more of the product to be processed, but the use of baskets makes processing easier and faster.) To facilitate drying, the smoker chimney damper should be fully open.
- Dry at 140° F (60° C) with no smoke until the surface is dry. This will require at least one hour. If the strips are on wire mesh, turn them over after 30 to 45 minutes to prevent sticking.
- Raise temperature to 160° F (71° C), and smoke for 2 or 3 hours.
- Raise the temperature to 185° F (85° C) and continue to dry with no smoke until done. This final drying and cooking step will require about three hours. When the chicken jerky is done, it will be about half the thickness of the raw jerky, and it will appear to have lost about 50% of its weight. The jerky will not snap when it is bent, but a few of the muscle fibers will fray. If the jerky is dried until it snaps when it is bent, the jerky will have a longer shelf life, but it will not be as tasty. Let the jerky cool to room temperature, and either freeze or refrigerate it.
Note: If the salt taste is too mild, the next time you make this product, add about 1 teaspoon of salt to the ingredients list. If the salt taste is too strong, reduce the amount of Bradley Cure by about 1 teaspoon.