If you don’t have one of those cool stacking tower models, here’s how to make Elk jerky without a dehydrator in your kitchen oven.
The best surface for drying jerky is using what is called a cake or biscuit cooling tray.
This allows air to circulate under your meat slices and allows them to stay straight while they dry out.
If you have the kind that can stack onto each other, this is even better. You can find these racks online and are perfect for making lots of Elk jerky in your oven.
Layout your strips onto the mesh and preheat your oven to 175F degrees.
If you have an oven that is meant for confectionary cooking, the fan will help flow air inside the oven while your meat slowly cooks and dries.
It will take only 3 to 4 hours for your Elk meat to become dry and leathery.
To reduce too much moisture you can slightly open your oven door for the last hour of baking them out.
The Best Cut to make Elk Jerky
The best cut for any section of Elk is often going to be Brisket.
This cut is commonly found just above the front legs and makes up the lower chest area cut of meat.
Many Elk fans who regularly like to make Elk jerky will also opt to use Rump roast or top round.
These cuts of meat have the grain running in one single direction.
This is simply chosen because it’s easier to cut and doesn’t have anything to do with flavor.
Now this will always be a big question on how to slice the pieces to make your jerky. If you have properly sharpened knives, you shouldn’t have a problem. This will be pretty evident if you sharpen your blade to at least 14 degrees on each side.
This makes a total of 28 degrees which is comparable to Henckels or Santoku (Japanese) blades.
This should allow any type of Elk meat to slice like butter when it’s cut against the grain.
If you’re worried about taste, all Elk meat is pretty lean so there is little difference where it comes from.
Brisket is simply a good choice since it will likely be cheaper than rump or top-round cuts can be. Aside from that, you’ll also be tenderizing your meat beforehand so it will be easier to chew when it’s dried.
Cutting your Elk Meat Slices
On a cutting board, you start by selecting which side of the grain you want to start with.
Now, if you prefer longer strips, you should choose which is the widest point of your cut?
I recommend that you start with a cut of meat that is semi-frozen so that your meat will be firmer while you make thin-cut strips.
These should be no more than 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Make sure you have your honing rod nearby so your cuts are always fast and clean.
If you prefer a knife sharpener, use a blade sharpener that can sharpen both sides at once.
This way you just need to reduce the amount of force needed to slice all the way through a large section of meat.
Any decent chef knife will do, although a good brisket knife is better for longer cuts of meat.
Place these strips into a large Ziplock bag and place this into the fridge until you’re ready to add the marinade.
Tenderizing your Elk Meat
Tenderizing your Elk meat is very simple and only requires a few key ingredients. This is important for cuts of Elk meat that are considered a bit tougher than others.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup sesame seed oil
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (any preferred brand)
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce (your favorite brand)
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (your favorite brand)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 teaspoons coriander powder (dried cilantro)
- 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (add more if you like spicy heat)
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (for the hot kick)
Mix all of these ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and mix it well using a spoon or whisk.
When it’s mixed together, pout this into your Ziplock bag with your meat strips.
Remove as much air from the bag as possible and make sure all the meat is totally coated.
Return your bag to the fridge and let it sit for 12 to 24 hours before starting to dry them out.
Is it safe to eat Elk jerky?
If you’re buying elk meat from a butcher that sells it, you don’t have to worry about any problems eating jerky that’s made from it.
If you’re a fan of Bushcraft and outdoor hunting, you’ll already know how to skin and prepare any kind of wild game meat.
Since many elk come from forest areas, there is always the risk of natural disease and CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease), which has affected many Elk across Canada and the US.
Yet with all of the hazards that this might sound, if meat is properly prepared and kept clean, it will be completely safe to eat.
You never want to eat raw meat, so anything that’s dried also needs to be cooked to the point that it’s totally dry.
This kills off any chance of disease and obviously bacteria that needs to be killed while it’s cooked out of the meat. It’s less likely that anyone will become sick or infected from eating dried Elk jerky.
How many calories are in Elk jerky?
It doesn’t matter which cut you use for your jerky, since select parts of Elk have all the same calories.
An average calorie count is 71.9 calories in just one ounce of Elk jerky. It’s actually healthier to eat elk than other types of meat compared to beef.
This is why it’s been dubbed the Heart-Smart Red Meat. It’s lower in fat, yet remarkably higher in protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and Omega 3s.
Elk is a free-range source of meat that isn’t fed steroids or is put on a standard diet.
It eats off the land and finds the nutrition it needs from seasonal grasses, dandelions, mushrooms, clover, and anything that is vegetation.
In the winter the average Elk will forage for scrubs and tips of woody growth.
This allows Elk to remain leaner and less fatty than grain-fed beef that has steroids added to increase the cattle growth rate overall.
How to properly store Elk jerky?
The best method is vacuum sealing using a conventional kitchen vacuum sealer. This will allow your beef jerky to remain fresh for longer periods.
If you don’t have one of these you can always use a Ziplock bag and squeeze out as much air as possible.
You can also use food-grade silica packets (one or two) per bag so this absorbs any moisture. After this, you seal and close your bag and store it in a dry place until you want to eat your Elk jerky.