APPLE CIDER & CHIPOTLE VENISON JERKY
Venison jerky may not be one of the first things you think of when it comes to seasonal foods, but I'm here to change that with this fall inspired recipe. The naturally sweet apple cider pairs nicely with smokiness and mild heat of the chipotles in adobo.
What are chipotles in adobo? They are simply smoked jalapenos that are packed into a rich seasoned tomato based sauce. You can find them at any Mexican grocery, most chain grocery stores and online.
The key to getting the best flavor is to use a natural apple cider that isn't flavored with a bunch of preservatives or additives. This will give you maximum crisp apple flavors whether the cider is for cooking or for drinking. You can usually find the good stuff at local farmers markets or higher end grocery stores.
The next important part (which is personal preference) is to decide whether to slice your venison with or against the grain. Slicing with the grain will result in a chewier jerky with longer stands that is a little tough to pull apart. Slicing against the grain will give you something that is much easier to pull apart with your teeth and that will break down faster when chewing.
As far as drying your meat you have a few basic options. You want to have your temperature set somewhere between 145 to 155 degrees F, so your equipment is important. I prefer to use a dehydrator due to the fact that they are very accurate with the temperatures and you don't have to constantly check on it if you are using a quality brand. I personally use the LEM Mighty Bite Dehydrator and it consistently produces delicious jerky time and time again.
You can also use your oven set on the lowest temperature while leaving the door cracked. Just be sure that you monitor the temperature or the quality of your jerky will drastically decline. Using a smoker is also a good option if you are able to dial in and monitor the temperature. But to keep the flavors a little cleaner, I'd save the smoker technique for a different jerky recipe.
Now if you're at all worried about food safety or if you have a local "meat police" around (as Emeril Lagasse used to say), using a little curing salt in the marinade will keep those fears at bay. It also helps give the meat a nice color and a little added twang flavor. Instacure number 1 is my recommended curing salt that I have been using for almost two decades.
3 pounds venison roast
2 cups apple cider (best you can find)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoon chipotles in adobo
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 bunch green onions chopped (green and white parts)
5 garlic cloves (chopped)
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
10 juniper berried (crushed)
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
Optional: 3/4 teaspoon curing salt (Instacure #1)
In a non-reactive bowl add all of the ingredients except the venison. Stir until well combined. At this point you can adjust the salt and sugar content to your liking.
Slice the venison either with or against the grain into 1/8 to 1/4 inch slices.
Add the sliced venison to the marinade and mix until the meat is thoroughly coated. Pour this mixture into a non-reactive container that is just big enough to hold everything. This ensures that the meat stays submerged. Alternately you can use a gallon freezer bag as long as the meat stays submerged in the marinade.
Marinade the venison for 24 to 36 hours.
Drain the meat and place on the dehydrator trays, ensuring that they are not touching. You want ample air flow around the meat. If you are using your oven, place the meat on metal wire racks that are resting on cookie sheet pans.
Set the dehydrator or oven between 145 and 155 degrees F. The drying time should be roughly between 5 and 6 hours. Check the meat by bending a few pieces. You'll know they are ready if they start to break apart while bent.
You can store the jerky in your refrigerator for months or your freezer for years. If you want to keep it at room temperature I highly suggest vacuum packing them and it wouldn't hurt to dry the meat an extra hour in set number 6.