Posted by: acooksca | 01/21/2013

Oven-dried Beef

Oven dried beef

Oven dried beef

Early Californians relied on a staple of frontier cooking… jerked (dried) meat. Strips of venison, bear or beef could be dried on strings in the sun to last for months without spoiling. Remnants of the vast herds of Mexican range cattle that roamed California prior to the Gold Rush sustained miners through harsh winters as dried beef. The richer the mining camp the more spices the meat was marinated in prior to drying.

A version of this very Californian food is easy to make, requiring just a few tools: a sharp slicing knife, 2 sheet pans and metal cooling or drying racks that are oven safe. Most contemporary ovens are equipped with a drying mode which does an excellent job at making a jerky-like dried beef. My oven comes with a door jam that keeps the door open and the oven light turned off through the 2 hour drying process. If yours doesn’t, use a rolled kitchen towel or pot lifter to keep the oven open about 11/2-inch at the top to let moisture escape. The dried meat keeps for several weeks in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator, ready as a highly flavored and protein-rich snack.

2 lbs. inexpensive beef steak such top round or chuck steak

2 Tablespoons red wine
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 Tablespoon kosher salt (or 1 1/2 teaspoons regular table salt)
1 Tablespoon dried thyme or oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Tabasco Sauce

Preheat oven on drying mode at 190 degrees. Adjust the shelves to be in the center and bottom third of the oven.  Freeze the meat for 20-30 minutes to firm it and make thin slicing easier. Trim the beef of sinews and fat along the edges. Slice the beef as thinly as you can, against the grain, into strips. Whisk together all marinade ingredients. Stir in the beef strips to coat well. Lay strips onto wire racks over sheet pans.

During drying, rotate the pans by switching shelves and spinning front to back every ½ hour. Depending on the thickness of the strips, the drying should take about 2-2 1/2 hours. Meat will be quite dry yet a little pliable.

Store the dried meat for several weeks in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator.

For a more jerky like result, check out:


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