Best Beef Cut for Jerky: Tips for Chef
The occasion is a
night out with friends, the wine is available and surplus, other drinks are equally
in abundance, the pastries are on riot, and everyone is in a good mood, but
something is missing, and that is a finely cut and cured beef jerky.
They can serve as
starter meals, or they can be taken after the meal, depending on the
availability of food or the plan of
Jerky is a slice of
trimmed meat which is often lean and cut into strips, salted, and dried with a low-temperature dryer.
It can be consumed
after it’s salted and dried, but in recent times, the beef for the jerky is
often seasoned with spice and marinated for instant consumption or storage in a
refrigerated system for later consumption.
Obviously, the road to perfecting the delicacy is
by using the best beef cut for jerky and
we are here to help you with that.
What you should know about beef jerky?
The meaning of the word jerky was derived from the Quechua word, which translates to salted and dried meat. The word for this is known as ch’arki (pronounced as tzerak-ee).
The Quechuas, who are Spaniards, had to adopt the idea of salting freshly harvested beef to prevent the spread of bacteria and the eventual decomposition of the meat. What was initially a preservation method later became a food production method.
However, not all dried and salted kinds of beef are jerky, but all jerky’s are salted, spiced, and dried using a low to mid-temperature heat to inhibit the growth and spread of bacteria and for cooking to perfection.
Tips for shopping for a cut of
beef for jerky?
Jerky’s don’t sprout from the ground. Great tasting ones come from specially bred cows. They are often the product of an eagle eye for small details and great fingers.
Having an eagle eye
simply translates to the ability to pick
the right beef, while the possession of great fingers will grant you the
ability to spice the beef up to just the right amount.
These two superpowers are all you need to have the best jerky for your party. So, when the time is ripe for beef shopping, here are things to look out for.
#1. Avoid fatty parts
The best quality beef for jerky is any lean meat that is devoid of fat and excess fatty deposits. It is not hard to spot beef that has fat. All you need to do is to look out for the characteristic white or yellow color. The presence of fat can and will slow down the preparation process. Fat cannot be dehydrated; as a result, it can make the meat prone to rancidity.
#2. Cheaper is not always better
There is a hidden
rule to follow as regards buying the perfect
beef for your jerky, always remember, cheaper isn’t always better and
expensive isn’t the best. But if you must err, don’t err going for a more
inexpensive slab of beef, except you
are getting a great deal from your vendor.
#3. Ask for top and bottom round parts
Lean meat is always found where deposits of fat are often in sparse quantities. In a cow, the parts where fats are hardly found are the top round and bottom round parts. These are the parts you should request for. Make sure you always remember this important piece of advice.
#4. Avoid beef with smells and colors
Jerky is expected to last for as long as possible, and it is best you get beef that will not make the jerky appear worse as the years advance. To prevent this, ensure that your beef is free from strange smells or weird looking colorations. These obvious but ominous signs are signs of bad beef from a diseased animal.
#5. Avoid tendons, ligaments
Tendons, joints, bones, and ligaments are great parts of beef, but they are difficult to chew, ingest, and sometimes digest. Before you make your purchase, check out your meat for these parts, you will be glad you did.
Other animals other than cows are great for making jerky. Such animals include deer, elk, and pork tenderloin, which are mostly lean, great with spices, and easy to chew.
The 7 Best Beef cut for jerky
We have been dancing around the fringes, here is the munchy and juicy part of the whole piece. At this point in this piece, it is believed that you have already known what beef jerky is, and how to make the right choice of beef when you are at the butchers.
There is one more vital point to note: how to identify the best parts of beef cut for jerky. The best beef parts were selected because of their leanness, the ease of chewing, flavor, and the ability to blend with spices.
We have chosen seven from a whole range of different parts of a cow. Check them out.
1. Leg muscle
This part of a cow is known by a rather peculiar name; it is called the Eye of Round. This is one of the choicest parts of beef because of specific characteristics.
Most chefs and
jerky makers often use this part of the beef for preparation because of an
all-important factor known as the fat factor. Fat is tasty but not on a jerky.
The oval muscle in the rear leg of a cow is where the magic is, especially when it is tender. Other characteristics that make this part perfect other than minute fat is the leanness of the meat and the ease of slicing. It is also very affordable and readily available in the market. Grab yours already.
2. The Tip of Sirloin
I know this part of
the beef sounds like the name of an island in ancient Greece, but it isn’t; it
is one of the choicest parts of beef.
So you might be
wondering what exactly makes this so special? Well, let’s let the cat or better
still, the beef out of the bag. The truth is, no one needs the jerky to be too
tough to chew or too tender to become an issue during preparation.
So the best bet is
to have a part that is both tender and tough enough, and this is what the
sirloin tip is; tough and tender (but more tender than tough).
You might not see
it everywhere because it’s a pricey part of the beef. It is also very lean,
which makes it a perfect choice for
jerky. If you find it, make sure you get it.
3. Flank steak
This is the Taj
mahal of beef parts because of its price
and quality. Flank steak is better
enjoyed if the butcher cuts against
the grain but it gets tough if cut with the grain.
It is this delicacy
that makes this part of beef, costly. It is a highly flavored part of the beef,
and if you are in love with marbling, this is the part for you. Unlike some
parts of meat, flank steak does not
need a jerky, and it doesn’t need to be flattened before and during
4. Ground meat
Ground meat is an excellent part of the beef,
and it can be used to make beef jerky. When seasoned, it is a very enjoyable
snack to chew on and to be enjoyed
with gusto. Itis easy to dehydrate, and it takes less than 5 hours to dry
without getting deep-fried.
5. Top round
To get this prime spot of beef to make your jerky, you have to know what you want. The top round is excised from the muscle found on the inside leg, which is opposite to the bottom round.
It is known for its
tenderness, and it is more tender when compared to the bottom round but not as
tender as the eye of the round.
Do you want to
guess why it is in high demand? Well, it is nothing other than the three
qualities of leanness, cheapness, and
flavor. You don’t need to worry about flattening, or any ostentatious form
6. Bottom round
The bottom round is famous for being tender, next to the top round and the eye of the round. The meat from the bottom round is usually leaner than other parts, and if you’re opportune to choose between the three, pick the eye of the round first, the top round next, and the bottom round last.
The chuck is a well-positioned and well-proportioned part of the cow. It is located very close to the shoulder. They are used to make jerky, and you will know the instant you bite into a jerky made from the chuck, as you may still see or taste stray excess fat.
Sadly, because of
the fat, jerky made from this won’t stay long and fresh as they should. And it is quite expensive because of the time invested in trimming the
excess fat during preparation.
Tips for your homemade beef jerky
#1. Cooking tip
The recommended temperature for getting the perfect
beef jerky that is both edible and enjoyable is to set your cooker to cook your
meat under low smoked heat, which is
usually below 70 degrees Celsius ( 160F).
However, it is not
surprising to see some jerky either too dried and almost powdery or getting
damaged because of high moisture content. This can be mainly attributed to
inexperience during the preparation process.
Many jerky makers often
ignore the moisture to protein ratio,
and in a bid to ensure it is well
preserved, they end up overheating and subsequently over-drying it.
In other instances, the
reverse is the case. In a bid to ensure the jerky still has some
scrumptiousness in it after preparation often ends up with a poorly prepared
The solution to this
“rookie” mistake is to ensure that your temperature is regulated and
left within the recommended range.
#2. Eating tips
Guess what, you can consume your jerky without
additives, and you will enjoy every strand and bit of it. This is a
characteristic of jerky that makes jerky’s a favorite for many who love them as
snacks or as a part of their diet.
But if you are up for adding spices and seasonings, then you can add
anything from pepper to spice combos
to your taste. When spicing, it is essential to remember that moderation is
everything. Moderation is good for
Beef jerky is supposed to be a healthy meal and that’s is the reason why
doctors recommend it for patients or individuals with cholesterol problems. It has been eliminated from some or all forms
of fat, making it a combination of minerals and protein that the body needs for vitality.
#3. Wrapping up
They are lean,
lovely and long-lasting, they are beef
jerky. Their origin has been traced to faraway Europe, where they were
known as the perfect meal for travelers who want a piece of protein to fill their bellies and nourish their bodies.
Today, jerkies have traveled from being salted, and dried pieces of lean meat
into well-flavored and carefully seasoned assorted meats that are now favorite snacks of jerky lovers.
Just like every
consumable product, freshness is an important quality to look out for while
sourcing your beef for the jerky.
Another vital factor to consider when making your choice of beef is tenderness.
Tough beef will make the resultant jerky tough and inedible.
When making your
choice, also lookout for the presence of fatty
tissues, tendons, and other
parts, not forgetting smells, stains, and bones.
The beauty of jerky
is in the eating, and the beauty of the taste is in the preparation.