_Jerky And Smoked Fish

Serves: 5



Drying meat began with pre-historic man and remains today as one of the easiest methods of preserving meat and fish. Though not recorded by these early campers, someone figured out when campfire smoke drifted past a drying rack, the smoke itself imparted a different flavor to the finished product. With a little more experimentation they figured out smoke from a fire fed with pine left a taste modern man would identify as tasting like turpentine, while fruit wood and some hardwoods yielded a much more pleasing flavor.

The biggest difference between the 'Original Recipe' and what we buy in the store or make ourselves is salt. In those early days salt was not available except in coastal areas or where salt deposits existed. The term jerky and the use of salt in its preparation are relatively new on the scene. Journal of a Trapper by Osborne Russell and edited by Aubrey L. Haines, depicts the life of a mountain man 1834-1843. Russell makes numerous references to 'dried meat' but does not mention using salt as part of the process. The term 'jerky' is most likely derived from the Spanish term charqui that refers to thin strips of dried meat, the Spanish version of 'Original Recipe'!

I've never tried to dry meat or fish without first soaking it in brine or using a dry rub, but I have sampled air-dried fish. A. K. Scott, a Fisheries Enforcement Officer for the Nez Perce Tribe, shared with me one evening chinook salmon prepared in the traditional way. This fish was not smoked nor brined. A. K. merely hung the fillets in a screened box until they reached the desired dryness. I seldom use the term delicate, but no other word adequately describes the taste.

I've tried many recipes for both smoked fish and jerky over the years. Many of these turned out too salty for my taste. As a result when I try a new recipe I make a small batch first just to see how salty it ends up. The recipes here agree with my family's tolerance for salt and taste great to boot!

We make our jerky from deer or elk, but beef can be substituted. I suggest getting an 'inside top round' from your local butcher. It will weigh about eight pounds or so. This cut is free of connective tissue and fat. Trim other cuts well. I like my jerky fairly thick, so I slice mine across the grain from a quarter to one half inch thick. If you like it thinner, put the meat in the freezer until it's almost frozen before slicing for ease of cutting. Depending on thickness and desired dryness, it will take approximatly 3 pounds of meat to yield1pound of jerky. Experiment for the best results.

As for the smoking part,I suggest new comers use one of the commercial 'Smokers' and follow the manufacturer's directions. Also, there many homemade smokers in use ranging from old refrigerators to old metal drums. Basically, though, all smokers use the same principal. They all have wire racks placed over a heat source. The smoke comes from wood chips or shavings that smolder to produce the smoke. Food dehydrators now on the market can also be used to make jerky. With this method, the spices and seasonings used in a brine or rub flavor the jerky. Liquid smoke in the brine will give a more authentic flavor.

However . . . whether you use a smoker or a dehydrator use extra care in preparing your jerky. Research indicates food born bacteria such as E. coli can withstand temperatures in excess of 150°F. If your smoker has a thermometer, be sure the air temperature inside the smoker exceeds 200°F for at least 10-15 minutes. If using a dehydrator, consider making up a little extra brine and storing it in a separate container. Just before you're ready to put the meat in the dehydrator bring this extra brine to a boil and dip the meat in it for a couple minutes. Add any dry seasonings such as pepper afterwards.

You can make jerky out of just about any type of meat you want, the two exceptions being bear and mountain lion. Both these critters are known to carry trichinae. As with pork, it takes a temperature in excess of 170°F to kill trichinae. Few, if any, smokers will reach temperatures high enough to eliminate this pest. Some folks just up the river from where I live learned this lesson the hard way a few years ago when they ate jerky made from a mountain lion.

As with anything else you choose to take on, do some homework before you get started for enjoyable results.

Spiced with More Tall Tales - Appetizers

This _Jerky And Smoked Fish recipe is from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

More Recipes from the Cee Dub's Dutch Oven and Other Camp Cookin' Cookbook:
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_Cooking From Cans - Menu For Day 16
_Culinary Bombs
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_Fanny Pack Snacks
_Game Meat
_Game Warden Dog
_Game Warden Scramble
_Garlic & Her Poor Cousin "Onion"
_Getting Bread In Camp
_Good Cooks / Bad Cooks!
_Good Humored Cook
_Hank's Spaghetti Sauce
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