Who doesn’t like Jerky? Deer, beef, fish, turkey, moose, beef, pork, you name it, it can be Jerked! Jerky is basically dried and salted meat. Native peoples and Pioneers smoked and dried meat so that it would not rot and last longer. Dried meat could be eaten as is or rehydrated in a stew or soup.

If a huge Buffalo was harvested, large roasts were soon sliced, dried, and stored. Fresh parts such as entrails, eyes, and vitals were eaten first. Large bones were baked and cracked open to get at the marrow. All these cuts were dried and mixed with nuts and berries to make Pemmican, the pioneers granola bars.

Recently my son bought a new smoker pellet grill. The first thing he cooked was Jerky! We are Jerky fanatics and know what great jerky is. Back in the day a meat shop in Ennis called Restvedt’s, made amazing Jerky. That is our Jerky standard. Today the same meat shop is called Deemo’s and is still darn good, but a tad pricy.

Kyle used a beef Flank steak for his first attempt. Using a filet knife, he cut thick ¼ inch strips. He had placed the meat in the freezer first to make for easier cutting.

Create your sauce in a glass bowl. You will need ½ cup Soy Sauce, ½ cup of beer, cola, or water, ¼ cup of Worcestershire Sauce, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of Onion Powder, 1 teaspoon of Fresh ground black pepper. This mix is perfect for about 2 pounds of trimmed beef.

You can use Flank steak, bottom round, top round, or sirloin tip. Normally, you select rougher and tougher cuts to make jerky. Be sure to trim off any silver skin, excess fat, or connective tissue. Place the trimmed meat into a glass bowl or sealable bag and add the mix of spices. This can be refrigerated for a week or at least several hours. The mix will tenderize and flavor the trimmed jerky.

When you are ready to cook the Jerky, start up your Smoker grill. On a Traeger, or similar pellet stove, 4-5 minutes will get the smoke going. Hickory, Oak, and Pecan pellets add a wonderful flavor.

Place the soaked meat strips onto paper towels and dry off the cuts. Place them on the grill grate and allow space between each slice. Smoke for 4-5 hours. The low, slow smoke will do the trick. The Jerky should bend but not break.

Once the jerky is done to your liking, transfer it into a plastic bag while it is still warm. Allow it to rest for an hour or become room temperature. Squeeze any air out of the bag and seal tight. This Jerky will store for several weeks in your refrigerator. Jerky makes a wonderful gift!

Venison makes outstanding Jerky! You can use the recipe that Kyle made or try this simple version. I found this old recipe in a vintage Sports Afield magazine. It was in their “How It’s Done” section.


This Jerky recipe can accommodate your taste and texture. Tweak it a bit to make it your own. Cut your meat into strips about ¼ inch thick. Tough cuts of meat should be cut across the grain.

After cutting the meat into strips, boil the meat in a bath of salt, vinegar, and the spices. You want to boil the batch for about 5 minutes. This will eliminate any bacteria, or contaminants. Wild Game can not be trusted to be free of Trichina.

Boil Bath

2 quarts of water, 2 cups of salt, ½ pint of vinegar, 2 tbsp. of pepper. This is enough brine for about 10 pounds of jerky strips.

Next, roll the strips flat, using a rolling pin. A wine bottle will also do the rolling trick. Squeeze out the excess brine. If the squeezed-out liquid is red in color, you did not boil it long enough. The Jerky should be a bit rubbery and gray in color. Once the strips are relatively dry, place a toothpick through each stripe end. This will allow you to suspend, or hang, them between the oven rack grates. I place aluminum foil on the bottom to catch any drippings, in the oven. You can also just lay the strips flat onto the grate in the oven or a smoker grill.

Set the temperature for 200 degrees. Keep the oven door slightly open. On a smoker grill, this will smoke nicely. Maybe experiment with different pellets or woods for different flavors. Smoke or dry in the oven for 1 ½ hours or so. You should be able to bend but not break the meat strips.

What you have now are dried, or smoked, jerky strips. This is when you add the flavor of choice. Use a new paint brush to paint on the flavors! Paint both sides of the Jerky with your sauce. My favorite sauces are A-1 or Heinz 57 steak sauce. You can also use Worcestershire Sauce or spice things up with Tabasco.

The finished product can be stored in an airtight jar or zip bag. If the Jerky is sealed and stored properly, it will last for years!

The biggest problem with great jerky is that it never gets stored for very long.

Montana Grant

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