Are you a fan of beef jerky but tired of buying it from the store?
Why not try making your own at home with a Little Chief smoker?
With a few simple steps and some patience, you can create delicious, homemade beef jerky that will rival any store-bought brand.
In this article, we will guide you through the process of making beef jerky in a Little Chief smoker, from preparing the meat to smoking it to perfection.
So grab your apron and let’s get started!
How To Make Beef Jerky In A Little Chief Smoker?
Step 1: Prepare the Meat
The first step in making beef jerky is to prepare the meat. Start by selecting a lean cut of beef, such as top round or flank steak.
Trim any excess fat off the beef and slice it into strips that are about 1/4 inch thick. Make sure to slice the meat uniformly for the best results when smoking.
In a small saucepan over low heat, combine all the marinade ingredients. Allow the marinade to cool and transfer the beef slices to the marinade, covering them thoroughly.
Transfer the slices to a large Ziploc bag or airtight container and pour the remaining marinade over the meat. Place the container or bag in your refrigerator and leave it to marinate overnight, or for at least 12 hours.
Choosing The Right Cut Of Meat For Beef Jerky
When it comes to making beef jerky, selecting the right cut of meat is crucial. The best cuts of meat for beef jerky are lean and have little to no intramuscular fat. This is because fat does not dehydrate like lean meat and can lead to spoilage.
Some of the top cuts of beef for jerky include top round, bottom round, pectoral, and blade lifter. These cuts are all economical, lean, and full of flavor. Other cuts like flank steak and skirt steak can also make great jerky.
It’s important to note that fancy cuts of beef like filet mignon should be avoided when making jerky. These cuts are high in fat and not suitable for jerky making.
When selecting your cut of meat, look for a clear and easily identifiable grain. This will ensure that your jerky slices are uniform and will smoke evenly in the Little Chief Smoker. If you’re unsure about which cut to use, ask your local butcher for recommendations.
Preparing The Meat For Smoking
Once the meat has been marinated, it’s time to prepare it for smoking. Remove the beef slices from the marinade and pat them dry with paper towels.
Next, it’s important to season the meat to add flavor. You can use a dry rub or a combination of spices and herbs to season the beef slices. Some popular choices include garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, cumin, and black pepper.
Apply the seasoning to both sides of the beef slices, making sure to cover them evenly. If you prefer a spicier flavor, you can add cayenne pepper or chili powder to the seasoning mix.
If you want to add even more flavor to your beef jerky, you can also inject the meat with a marinade using a meat injector. This will help keep the meat moist during smoking and add an extra layer of flavor.
Once the meat has been seasoned or injected, it’s time to place it in your Little Chief smoker. Arrange the beef slices on the smoker racks, leaving some space between them for air circulation.
Close the smoker door and turn on the heat source. Keep the temperature between 160-180°F for best results. Smoke the beef jerky for 4-6 hours or until it reaches your desired level of dryness and chewiness.
Once done, remove the beef jerky from the smoker and allow it to cool completely before storing in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Your homemade beef jerky is now ready to enjoy!
Creating The Perfect Marinade For Beef Jerky
The marinade is an essential part of making delicious beef jerky. It not only adds flavor to the meat but also helps to tenderize and preserve it. There are many different marinade recipes out there, but the key is to find one that works for you and your taste preferences.
One popular marinade recipe includes soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and sugar. This combination provides a perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors. You can also add other spices such as ground black pepper, chiles, jalapeno, garlic powder, or beef bullion to enhance the taste.
Another great marinade recipe includes brown sugar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika, meat tenderizer, black pepper, red pepper flakes, onion powder, and garlic powder. This recipe has a bit of a kick to it and is perfect for those who enjoy a spicier flavor.
When preparing the marinade, make sure to whisk all the ingredients together until they are evenly combined and the sugar is dissolved. Once the marinade is ready, add the beef slices and toss them until they are evenly coated. Cover the container or bag with plastic wrap or transfer it to a large ziplock bag and marinate it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours or overnight.
When it comes to creating the perfect marinade for beef jerky, there are no hard and fast rules. Experiment with different ingredients and flavor combinations until you find one that works for you. With a little bit of trial and error, you’ll be able to create delicious beef jerky that’s sure to impress your friends and family!
Loading The Little Chief Smoker With The Meat
Loading the Little Chief smoker with the marinated meat is the next step in making beef jerky. Before loading the smoker, make sure that you have enough wood chips to last for the entire smoking process.
The Little Chief smoker requires three pans of wood chips for most applications. The wood pan is located at the bottom of the smoker, so make sure to place it there before loading the meat.
Remove the meat from the marinade and shake off any excess liquid. Arrange the meat slices on the racks, making sure to leave some space between them for smoke to circulate.
Once you’ve loaded all the racks with meat, place them in the smoker and close the door. Make sure that the drip pan is in place to catch any excess liquid or fat from the meat.
Plug in the smoker and turn it on. The Little Chief smoker will take around 6-8 hours to smoke beef jerky, depending on how thick your slices are and how dry or moist you like your jerky.
During the smoking process, make sure to check on the smoker periodically to ensure that there is enough smoke and that the temperature is consistent. You can add more wood chips if needed.
Once the beef jerky is smoked to your desired level of dryness, remove it from the smoker and let it cool down before storing it in an airtight container or Ziploc bag. Beef jerky made in a Little Chief smoker can last for up to two weeks when stored properly.
Smoking The Beef Jerky To Perfection
Once the meat has marinated for at least 12 hours, it’s time to smoke it to perfection. Start by removing the bag from the fridge and placing your slices of meat on a cookie sheet lined with foil and paper towels.
Place one layer of meat, and then add a paper towel layer, and add another layer of meat. Continue this process until you’ve placed all of the meat on the cookie sheet. Mopping up the extra moisture helps the meat cook more consistently.
The ideal temperature to smoke beef jerky at is between 160-180°F. This allows the beef to dehydrate, without being cooked. You can go up to 200°F, but much hotter and you run the risk of drying out your jerky.
In a Little Chief Smoker, start by preheating it to 175-185°F. Once it’s up to temperature, add your preferred wood chips. Hickory wood is a popular choice for beef jerky because it adds a wonderfully sweet flavor to savory smoked meats.
Grab a baking rack and remove the jerky from the refrigerator. Place the jerky strips onto the baking rack, grab a paper towel, and blot the strips of beef for any extra moisture. As much as you may want to skip this step, it’s important that you don’t. Soaking up any extra liquid is the key to allowing the meat to smoke more consistently — after all, we want to dry out the meat quickly and easily.
Place the beef strips directly onto the smoker’s grates and allow them to smoke for three to four hours, checking it every hour to ensure it’s cooking evenly. Don’t be afraid to move pieces around throughout your smoker to ensure even smoke distribution.
You’ll know your jerky is done when you can bend it slightly and it begins to crack — but it doesn’t break — this is usually around the 3-hour mark but can take a little more time.
Once you’ve removed the jerky from the smoker, place it on a cooling rack, place it in a sealed bag or container, and store it in your refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. That’s it – smoked beef jerky ready for snacking or camping trips!
Storing And Enjoying Your Homemade Beef Jerky
Once your homemade beef jerky is ready, it’s important to store it properly to maintain its flavor and freshness. Here are some tips for storing and enjoying your homemade beef jerky:
1. Use an Airtight Container: Store your beef jerky in an airtight container to prevent air and moisture from getting in. This will help maintain the texture and flavor of the jerky for a longer period of time.
2. Keep It Cool and Dry: Store your beef jerky in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. This will help prevent the growth of bacteria and mold, which can spoil your jerky.
3. Label and Date Your Jerky: To keep track of when you made your beef jerky, label the container or bag with the date you made it. This will help you keep track of how long it has been stored and when it’s time to consume it.
4. Freeze for Long-Term Storage: If you want to store your beef jerky for an extended period of time, consider freezing it. Place the jerky in an airtight container or freezer bag and store it in the freezer for up to six months.
5. Enjoy Your Jerky: Homemade beef jerky is a delicious and healthy snack that can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere. Pack some in your lunchbox or take it with you on a hike or camping trip for a protein-packed snack on the go.
Remember, homemade beef jerky is best enjoyed within one to two months of making it. By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your homemade beef jerky stays fresh and delicious for as long as possible.