Much better. Thinner slices, better meat, longer drying and a tweaked recipe made all the difference. It's very peppery, just a little hot, and only a slight hint of worcestershire.
Following up on yesterday's post, I pulled the jerky yesterday morning before heading to work. It was ok, but not great. I'll try to rationalize why:
1. It wasn't completely dried. I only froze the beef for an hour last night, and ended up slicing it a bit thicker than I wanted. It ended up being about the same thickness as the gas station jerky you get that's sealed between two pieces of plastic. While there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, it does take longer to dry, and 12 hours wasn't enough. It was still a little bit squishy in the middle. Not terrible, but it wasn't totally preserved, and wouldn't have been able to last for more than, say a month.
2. Wrong meat. I got a middle of the road top sirloin from wal-mart, and there was a little too much fat hiding out here and there. Again, doesn't totally ruin jerky, but fat is the first thing to go rancid in jerky, and also would have contributed to only lasting a month or so in an airtight container.
3. The recipe included WAY too much worcestershire sauce. It was a bit of a put-off for me.
So I ate my losses and decided to try again. On the way home today I stopped by a local butcher (Butcher Boy), and got 1 1/2 pounds of "London broil" (flank steak), with very little marbling and very little fat to trim. The price per pound was about the same as I paid for the top loin, too. I froze it for a solid 2 hours, sliced it as thin as I could, and played around with the recipe. I used a full recipe, but only used about 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce instead of the 2/3 cup called in the recipe. I've got 3 teaspoons ground pepper + a handful of whole peppercorns, paprika instead of red pepper flakes (which I did in the previous batch but forgot to mention; that part was good), and I threw in a few drops of Tabasco.
I'll start the fan before I go to bed (about 2AM) and leave it running until I get home from work the next day -- about 15 hours -- and give it a check before deciding on more time.
Oh, and to those who were wondering about the filters -- they worked out very well, and can definitely be used over and over.
Actually, I'm making beef jerky, according to this recipe (halved, 1 pound of beef). The beef is chilled, cut into thin, long slices, marinated, and placed on accordion furnace filters. A blank filter is placed on top, and the whole thing is bungee corded to a box fan. Here's the final setup, before being placed on my patio:
For the record, the filters are cellulose/poly air filters, not fiberglass. They ran me about $7.50 for a 3-pack, and obviously aren't usable as furnace filters after they're used to make jerky. But they should be reusable for future jerky batches.
I'll let you know how they turn out when they're done tomorrow.