I’m not going camping. I wish I was. The men in my family are headed up to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and I will be running 26.2 miles down a canyon instead. It’s almost the same.
When they went last year, I convinced them that in exchange for a dehydrator, I would make them food to take. Part of that was just a ploy to get some financial contributions towards a dehydrator, but making your own dehydrated food is almost always more economical than buying packaged meals (check out the Backpacking Chef for a lot of great ideas and recipes!). Most of it was successful, some of it was not, but they ate most of it because they were hungry and in the woods with no other options. Just FYI, dehydrated chunks of chicken are not a pleasant texture. Taste is fine, texture is totally weird. There is a very good reason you don’t ever see chicken jerky.
I dehydrated everything I could get my hands on last summer. That thing ran almost around the clock. One day, there would be a nice pumpkin aroma wafting through the house and the next it was teriyaki and ginger. I have yet to effectively dehydrate blueberries and not have them turn into little crunchy blue pebbles. I also learned how valuable it is to have parchment paper or tray liners. And if you are going to spend the money on a dehydrator, invest in one with a timer. It is 100% worth it!
Anyway, one of my favorite things to make is jerky. And it’s super super easy. I like to play with different flavor combinations – ginger and garlic, teriyaki ginger, barbecue jerky, and the family favorite – Sriracha jerky. Seriously, sriracha is good on everything. Sriracha jerky, Sriracha eggs, hummus, salad dressing, barbecue sauce, rice, whatever. I continue to hear about how much they loved the Sriracha jerky – they even remembered where they were when they opened up that bag of spicy goodness (Knife Lake, in case you were curious).
I feel bad even calling this a recipe because it is ridiculously simple.
1 lb ground beef
1/4 – 1/2 cup Sriracha (depending on your heat preference)
salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste (garlic, onion powder, cumin, paprika, etc.)
Mix your beef, sriracha, and spices together. Let marinate overnight for best results.
Place on your dehydrator sheets (I line mine with parchment paper) in strips. You can get fancy with a jerky gun or you can just shape them with your hands. Dehydrate at 155° for 6-8 hours.
Or use your oven. Just turn it to the lowest setting (typically 175°) and bake for 2-5 hours.
Feed to your brothers so they will love you forever.
Other jerky variations the boys are getting for their trip:
Whiskey-ginger ale. Whiskey is good, jerky is good, the two of these together? Delicious! I used 1 lb beef, 1/4 cup whiskey, 3/4 cup ginger ale (or ginger beer), and juice from one lime. Marinate overnight and dehydrate.
Chipotle. 2 tbsp tomato paste, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp cumin, 4 dried chipotle chiles, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste.
Orange-Ginger. 3/4 cup gluten-free tamari, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, zest from 1 orange, juice from 1 orange, salt and pepper.
Salsa Verde. I made salsa verde using a combination of tomatillos, hatch chiles, onion, garlic, chicken stock, and spices.
I’ll report back with the favorite. My guess is that Sriracha will still reign supreme. Jerky is a great snack – lightweight, portable, tasty, and packed with protein. When I started making jerky, I went with lean cuts, but found that it is much more economical and just as tasty to make it with lean ground beef.