For 5 lb of meat:
2 TBSP kosher or pickling salt (never use iodized salt!)
2 TBSP sugar (the white granulated variety)
3 tsp ground black pepper (freshly ground is BEST)
1 tsp Instacure #1 (sodium nitrite) – very important!
1 to 1.5 tsp (total) of your favorite spice(s)… such as garlic powder, onion powder, celery seed, paprika, cayenne pepper, chipotle powder, etc. Just don’t use spices with additional salt in them.
Mix the ingredients COMPLETELY!
Slice meat uniformly at 1/4 inch thick. Using a non-metallic container (like a 9×13 inch glass casserole dish) sprinkle both sides of the meat strips and layer it in the dish.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator at least overnight or 24 hours.
Smoke meat for 2 hours. (about 120 (48.9C) to 140 (60C) F is fine) Hickory seems to work best. If you are not using Instacure #1 (sodium Nitrite) then you MUST smoke/dry at temperatures above 140F.
With vents wide open, dry the meat at similar temperatures until the desired dryness is achieved. Depending on your smoker, you may need to rotate your racks. The time can vary tremendously based on the thickness you sliced the meat at.
** An alternate drying method that works well is to insert a toothpick into the end of each slice and hang them on your oven rack. Set the oven to its lowest temperature. Do NOT leave the door open! An electric oven is NOT recommended.
It is done when you bend a slice in half and the middle just begins to tear. Any more than this and you’ll have leather!
Keep the jerky in the refrigerator or eat it up quickly. NEVER place jerky in a sealed plastic bag unrefrigerated. It will surely mold in a couple days!