How many different varieties of jerky can you name? If you’re like most of us, your list probably aligns with the convenience-store rack: teriyaki, hickory (or “original”), maybe Sriracha or another spiced-up flavor. But as butcher and author Taylor Boetticher points out, the equation that equals jerky, “meat plus salt plus sun,” is a global one, with almost infinite variations. In his new cookbook, Jerky, Boetticher and co-author Toponia Miller round up dozens of the planet’s best, including the two game-specific recipes here. Traveling the world is as easy as firing up your dehydrator.
Italian-Style Wild Boar Coppiette
Ingredients | Makes about 1 pound
- 2 lb. trimmed wild
- boar sirloin, cut into
- 1⁄2-inch-thick strips
- 3 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 juniper berry
- 2 tsp. black peppercorns
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1⁄3 cup red wine
- Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic with the salt to form a paste and set aside. Place the bay leaf, juniper berry, and peppercorns in a spice grinder and pulverize until fully ground.
- Place the boar strips in a shallow bowl. Massage the garlic paste into the meat, then season with the ground spices. Add the rosemary sprig and red wine, and using your hands, mix well to evenly coat the strips. Cover and refrigerate for at least three hours or as long as overnight.
- When you are ready to dry the boar, remove the meat from the refrigerator. Place the strips on the racks of your dehydrator, making sure that none are curling or overlapping. Set the temperature to 145 degrees. Insert the racks into the dehydrator, leaving as much space as possible between them. Dehydrate for about two hours, until the strips are firm but still pliable, rotating the racks front to back halfway through to ensure even drying.
- Allow the jerky to cool at room temperature. Transfer to a covered container that allows a bit of airflow and store in a cool, dark place for up to six weeks.
Spanish-Style Tasajo con Pimentón
Ingredients | Makes about 1 Pound
- 2 lb. venison, trimmed and cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick, 6-inch-long strips
- 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. fine sea salt
- 2 Tbsp. dried oregano
- 2 Tbsp. dry sherry
- 1⁄4 cup sweet pimentón de la Vera, or smoked paprika
- Special Equipment: Butchers twine and a metal skewer
- In a large, shallow bowl, combine the salt and oregano. Add the strips of meat, rolling them around in the seasonings to coat evenly. Add the sherry and, using your hands, mix well to evenly coat the meat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Place the pimentón in a baking dish. Remove the meat from the refrigerator and dredge each strip in the spice to evenly coat.
- Cut 12-inch lengths of butchers twine; you will need as many strands as you have meat strips. Using a sharp metal skewer, pierce a hole in each meat strip about 1 inch from one end. Thread a length of the butchers twine through the hole, then tie the ends together to form a loop.
- Hang the meat strips by their twine loops in a cool, dark, ventilated location, preferably one with a stable temperature of 50 to 60 degrees; in the late autumn through the early spring, a garage can yield excellent results. Allow the meat to air-dry until the tasajo is firm but not too hard (roughly the texture of a salami), about 10 days. If the temperature is a little cooler, drying may take up to two weeks; if the temperature is slightly warmer, it may take only one week.
- To serve, thinly slice the strips crosswise; cut only as much as you plan to eat. Cover any uncut tasajo in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
Wild Chef Cheat Sheet: Making Jerky by the Book
Jerky: The Fatted Calf’s Guide to Preserving and Cooking Dried Meaty Goods, by Taylor Boetticher Taylor Boetticher
Devising your own jerky flavor is fun and rewarding. Start with the bedrock formula that Boetticher and Miller lay out in Jerky. For every 2 pounds of meat (trimmed and either sliced 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-inch-thick against the grain or cut into 1⁄2-inch-thick strips), use one tablespoon plus one teaspoon of salt. After drying, this will yield about a pound of jerky.
Next, add some flavor. Boetticher and Miller divide jerky flavors into five categories: savory, sweet, tangy, herbaceous, and spicy. For savory, think fish sauce, miso, and Worcestershire. For sweet, honey, molasses, or maple syrup. Use as few or as many of these categories as you like. Marinate the meat overnight.
Now, to smoke or not to smoke? Think of smoke as just another flavor. It can complement vibrant seasonings but overpower more delicate ones. For the deepest smoky flavor, skip the dehydrator and hot-smoke the jerky at about 150 degrees.