Jerky, by Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller provide insight and over 40 recipes on the centuries-old meat dehydrating technique.
Carne seca, Spanish for “dried meat,” is a specialty of the borderlands of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. Simply seasoned with lime and mild dried Anaheim chile, this jerky is a great everyday snack as well as an essential component for Machaca a Sonoran specialty. You can make carne seca in a dehydrator or oven, but we prefer the intoxicating perfume of wood smoke obtained by drying the beef with hot smoke or over the embers of a low fire.
- Toast the chile in a dry skillet over medium heat for about 30 seconds per side. Allow to cool to room temperature. Stem and seed the chile, then break the pod into pieces. Using a spice grinder, pulverize the chile to a fine powder. In a small bowl, combine the chile powder and salt.
- Place the sliced beef in a shallow bowl or container and season with the chile-salt mixture. Squeeze the lime over the meat. Using your hands, mix well to evenly coat the slices. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
- When you are ready to dry the beef, remove the meat from the refrigerator. Place the slices on the racks of your dehydrator, making sure that no slices are overlapping. Set the temperature to 145˚F (63˚C). Insert the racks into your dehydrator, leaving as much space as possible between them. Dehydrate for about 21∕2 hours, until the slices are firm but still pliable, rotating the racks front to back halfway through to ensure even drying.
- Alternatively, you can use a smoker. Arrange the slices on the racks, making sure that no slices are overlapping. You want to keep the temperature in the smoker between 140°F and 160°F (60°C and 65°C). Insert the racks into the smoker, leaving as much space as possible between them. Dry the meat for about 21∕2 hours, until the slices are firm but still pliable, rotating the racks front to back halfway through to ensure even drying.
- Allow the jerky to cool at room temperature. Transfer to a covered container that allows a bit of air flow and store in a cool, dark place for up to 6 weeks.
Reprinted with permission from Jerky copyright 2018 by Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.