So after the last jerky attempt on the Big Green Egg, where I used a wet marinade on the meat before smoking, this time I went with a dry brine. I ordered my cure and seasoning from Hi Mountain Jerky – I ordered both variety packs to be safe and also to have some flavors to play with in my smoking adventures. So Saturday, as the salmon and pastrami was smoking, I went to the market and picked up 5lbs of bottom round. Tip: Have the butcher slice it for you – request 1/4″ or thinner. That will save you a lot of time and prep.
Step 1: Trim the fat from the meat and cut into strips – then layout on a sheet pan and coat with seasonings per the directions. I used 2 tsps of cure with 1 1/2 tsps of seasoning per 1 lb of meat. (My 5lbs was reduced to 3lbs or so when the fat was trimmed). Bag and tag the jerky (label it if doing different flavors) and then refrigerate for 24 hours.
Step 2: The Big Green Egg Prep. You need to get your egg to 200 degrees – for 7 hours. How you do it is up to you, but this is how my setup worked (and it worked great!). I first started the egg using my electric starter, got them to 500 degrees and then began shutting the top and bottom vents. In stage 1, I shut the bottom vent 3/4 of the way and the top vent about 3/4 of the way as well. That brought the temps down to 350 after about 30 minutes. I then added the apple wood chips (soaked for 2 hours) and the plate setters with a drip pan on each. In the drip pan I just put water, some rosemary, bay leaves and a jalapeno (fresh from my plant). Then I shut the eggs again and closed the vents even further (see picture below) and waited another 30 to 45 minutes until the temps hit 200.
Step 3: While the egg is coming down to temp, you can get your jerky ready to smoke. This time around, I took my grills inside and arranged the jerky there. This helped immensely in making sure the eggs didn’t smoke too much. I was able to arrange the jerky without being rushed and the eggs didn’t flare up.
Step 4: Smoking. Now your egg is at 200 degrees, you can put the meat on. And now you wait. No peaking. Except every 1 1/2 to turn the jerky – you want to turn it to make sure it smokes evenly and that pieces near the outside don’t get to dry – do this quick and carefully, otherwise you’ll lose meat through the grill and the temp will flare up.
Step 5: Nom nom nom. I smoked my jerky for 7 hours. It was done around 5 hours – but I like mine a little smokier and dry. And after 7 hours, it still came out delicious and moist. From Hi Mountain Jerky, I tried the Hickory, Cajun and Garlic Pepper Flavors. The far and away favorite was the hickory – it was nice and smoky without being overpowering. The garlic pepper was more pepper then garlic and the Cajun was pretty weak – maybe I need to up the seasonings on that next time.
Dry brining / curing turned out much much better then the wet marinade – but both were delicious. Just another affirmation that the Big Green Egg can make anything taste good. I’m hooked on jerky from the Egg – this batch is already gone and it was just smoked on Sunday.
Now my mouth is watering for more!