With a little patience, making jerky from any kind of meat can be very easy. You don’t even need to buy a special dehydrator; you can do it in your own convection oven. However, the primary advantage of a convection oven is that it has a fan to circulate the hot air, cooking the food faster. When making jerky, though, it’s important to always dry the meat as slowly as possible while using as little heat as possible. While you can easily use a convection oven to make jerky, you can’t use it to speed up the process.
Things You'll Need
Pick out your meat, marinade and space blend. Though beef is the most popular jerky meat, you can make jerky out of any available meat. You can also use any homemade or store-bought liquid marinade and customize the blend of spices to your needs. For ideas and recipes on meat combinations, marinades and spices, see the Resources section below.
Place the meat on the cutting board and carve off as much fat as possible. Fat won’t dry out completely, so it’s best to use only the leanest parts to make jerky.
Use a sharp knife to cut the meat into several very thin strips. Each strip should be roughly an inch wide and no more than an eighth of an inch thick.
Prepare your marinade in a glass dish and put all of the jerky strips inside so that they’re completely submerged. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator for the duration recommended in your selected marinade recipe, usually about 12 hours.
Remove the strips of meat from the marinade and drain them on several layers of paper towels. Press the strips between the paper towels until they are only moist enough to hold some of your spice blend.
Remove the middle rack from the oven and clean it thoroughly, then dry it and set it aside.
Place a baking sheet in the very bottom of the oven and heat it to 150 degrees F. If your convection oven won’t go that low, set it to the lowest possible heat setting.
Sprinkle both sides of each strip of meat with the spice blend. If the strips are too dry to hold the spices, gently brush each side of each piece with a dampened paper towel. As you finish coating each piece, lay it across the clean oven rack. Be sure to arrange the meat only in a single layer.
Slide the loaded oven rack into the middle position of the oven and leave the door slightly ajar to allow moisture to escape. Let the meat dry at this low heat for eight hours.
Remove one piece of jerky, let it cool and take a bite to test it for consistency. If it still feels a little moist and chewy, let the jerky dry for a while longer, checking on it every 30 to 45 minutes.
Cool the finished jerky completely, then refrigerate it in an airtight container.
Some specialty retailers sell jerky kits that include special marinade and spice blend combinations.
References and ResourcesJerky: Make Your Own Delicious Jerky and Jerky Dishes Using Beef, Venison, Fish, or Fowl; A.D. Livingston; 2001