After making homemade bacon on my Weber Smokey Mountain smoker, I figured the next logical thing to try would be making homemade black pepper jerky. The curing process for jerky is similar in ways to curing bacon, but it doesn’t take as long. The smoking process is different, since the jerky needs to dry out on the smoker.
How was it?
The end result was fantastic. A great peppery flavor, with a little kick of heat. The meat was tender, with a little bit of tug, as you’d expect from jerky. We loved it. Everyone loved it.
Things to keep in mind
The most important things to keep in mind when making jerky is to start with a lean cut of meat (I used a lean top round), sliced super thin, and smoke at a fairly low temperature, 150 – 175 F.
I lit just a handful of charcoal using my charcoal chimney. The easiest way to do that is to turn the chimney upside down, putting the charcoal where you’d normally put newspaper, and putting newspaper where you’d normally put charcoal. I put just enough unlit charcoal in the bottom of the WSM to cover the bottom grate.
To make slicing the beef easier, I sat it in the freezer for about 30 minutes first. Then I used a very sharp knife to get very thin slices.
Pack it in!
To fit as much jerky on my Weber Smokey Mountain as I could, I suspended the meat on skewers. But, I have to admit that skewering the meat and feeding it through the grill grates took some time. You can easily fit 3-5 pounds of jerky on an 18″ smoker.
I was surprised with how easy making jerky was. I’ll definitely be trying different flavors out soon. Also, you can follow this recipe for making jerky at home in the oven. You’ll want to add a teaspoon or two of liquid smoke to the marinade to get a smoky flavor. Also, If you can’t get your oven down to 150 F, set it as low as it’ll go. Then put a wooden spoon in between the door and oven to let some air out as the jerky cooks on racks.