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Machaca: Jerky by Another Name

Taking a detour this post from traditional jerky to a ‘south-of-the-border’ jerky called machaca. [1]  This started out with my trying to find some good recipes for making enchiladas and tacos using traditional jerky.  But . . . since I couldn’t find any, changed directions on finding some good recipes using machaca which is made in a similar fashion.  So let’s get started !


To make machaca, you will marinade the beef, cook it, shred it and only then will it be dried if desired.   Note:  While machaca was often dried for use ‘on the trail’ in olden days as drying gave it a longer life, it is more often immediately used today to make enchiladas, tacos or quesadillas – with any leftovers frozen to enjoy later.



A beef that shreds well should be selected, i.e.., skirt steak, brisket, etc.  And, if the cut is large –  say 2-3 lbs. – cut it into portions that are about one pound each. This will allow for better marinating and more even cooking.

The process of cooking machaca is to braise the marinated meat on high heat to sear it, add liquid to meat*, reduce heat to low simmer and cook – then shred.

* The liquid can be oil, tomatoes, vegetables, etc.


Basic Marinade for Machaca [1]


  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil

Note: You can also add in other ingredients to suit your taste, ie, cayenne if you like hot.


  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl
  2. Add beef (1 lb. size pieces)  making sure all sides are coated
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight
  4. To use: Drain thoroughly and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before starting cooking process










Machaca Recipe [1]



  • 2-3 marinated beet cut into 1 lb portions
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • 1/2 green pepper diced
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced or pressed)
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper minced (optional & don’t forget remove seeds & wash your hands immediately after mincing)
  • 1 14oz. can tomatoes (diced) – with or without green chilies
  • 1/4 cup beef broth
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (Tabasco, Srirachi)
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • vegetable or olive oil for searing


  1. Heat oil -(medium-high heat) in large pot until very hot
  2. Sear beef to rich brown color (number seared together will depend on size of pot)
  3. Remove beef from pot and add onions, peppers and garlic – saute
  4. Add in remaining ingredients along with beef
  5. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan to incorporate
  6. Reduce heat, cover and simmer on low for about 2 hours (Meat should be fork tender and fall apart when done)
  7. Remove meat to cutting board and shred with forks
  8. Return to pot and cook/simmer, uncovered to reduce liquid. Meat should be almost dry
  9. Serve or use for enchiladas, tacos or quesadillas.


For other recipes, please visit this link  and for another variation of how to make  machaca, check out  this link.




Homemade Cured & Smoked Salmon

Cured Salmon



Before we get started, let’s ask the question – How safe is eating ‘cured salmon’ that has not been smoked . . . or at least heated for a minimum of 30 minutes to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F?

A lot of people love to eat sushi, but there is some debate as to whether or not ‘cured salmon’ can be eaten raw. Personally, think I’d rather not have to worry about whether or not my salmon might have a parasite.     That being said . . . let’s look at curing salmon.


Prepping the salmon [1]

  • Remove head, fins and tail as well as one-half inch along the belly incision on each side.
  • Cut steaks: 3″ steaks if salmon weighs 10 lbs or under;  1-1/2″ steaks if salmon is over 10 lbs.   (Split along backbone; leave skin on if desired)

Note: The salmon should be fresh and chilled before curing/ smoking.  Use ice in the water if needed for chilling.

Cure Recipe [1]

  1. 1/2 cup white sugar
  2. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 gallon cold water
  4. 1-3/4 cup Morton Tender Quick or Morton Sugar Cure – plain


View these Morton cure products on Amazon at these links:

Morton Tender Quick Home Meat Cure – 2 lb

 Morton Sugar Cure, Smoke Flavor, 7.5 Pound (Pack of 6) – plain


  1. You will need 1 gallon of brine for each 5 lbs. of salmon (follow manufacturer’s directions).
  2. Completely submerge salmon in the brine holding it down with a ceramic plate or bowl.
  3. Cure for 16 hours in the refrigerator.
  4. Remove salmon from brine and rinse in cool water, pat dry and cook as desired. It can also be smoked.
  5. Refrigerate if not consumed immediately.


Smoked Salmon

To make homemade smoked salmon you’ll use a Salmon Brine Mix vs. a Morton product  – following the manufacturer’s directions on the brine mix package.   Otherwise, the overall recipe is pretty much the same as for curing salmon . . . fresh salmon (prepared), brine mix, and 1 gallon ice water.

To read more about Salmon Brine Mix  visit this link at Hi Mountain Alaskan Salmon Brine, 13.4 Oz.




To make smoked salmon:

  • Immerse the salmon in the brine for 24 hours, keep in the refrigerator during this 24 hour period
  • Remove from brine, rinse in cold water and pat dry
  • Let the salmon sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes and then smoke. (The smoking process will depend on the method, type of smoker, outside temperature, etc.)

For information on smokers, visit this link:

Note: Should you not be able to get the salmon the desired internal temperature of 160 degrees F in the smoker; place it in a pre-heated oven to finish the process once the smoking process has achieved the desired color.


Fish Jerky

With hunting season over, those looking to enjoy outdoor sporting activities often turn to fishing. So in this post, we’ll take a look at fish jerky which has been a staple for mankind for a very long time.






As with red meat jerky, the fish used should be the leanest AND freshest possible (the flesh of the fish deteriorates and decomposes rapidly).   Any fish used should also be free of any parasite or disease.  This is true for both freshwater and saltwater fish.  Some recommended fish are:

Freshwater Fish
  • Bass
  • Brook Trout
  • Bluegills
  • Walleyes
  • Perch
  • Crappies


Saltwater Fish
  • Codfish
  • Flounder
  • Tuna (free of fat)


The more ‘oily’ fish such as snapper, mullet, whitefish, catfish and pike are not recommended for making jerky as the fat/oil is too evenly distributed throughout the flesh. Although, they are good for smoking.


Unlike red meat jerky, fish jerky is salt cured – liquid or dry – before dehydration. [1]   A couple methods are below:

Brine Cure – 1/4 cup of dine pickling or canning salt to 2 cups of water. Brine should cover the fish and make sure the salt is completely dissolved.  Using a glass container, place the fish in the brine and place in refrigerator for 48 hours.

Dry Brine Cure – Place a layer of dry salt in a glass dish, apply coating of salt to each strip of fish, place in pan – repeat for each fish strip.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 48 hours.

For both wet/dry brine cure, remove fish from container upon completion of 48 hours and rinse under cold water then pat dry. You can now marinate and/or dehydrate the fish.  While marinating is not necessary, it does add to the flavor.

Fish Jerky Marinade

For the recipe below, allow the mixture to set overnight in the refrigerator before using with the fish strips.  This lets all the flavors blend.   When ready to use the fish marinade, allow the fish strips to set in the marinade for about two (2) hours in the refrigerator before placing into the dehydrator or oven.  You can, of course, use your favorite pre-packaged marinade.

Fish  Marinade Recipe [1]

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper

Dehydrator Drying –  follow manufacturer’s directions for fish.

Oven Drying – place on wire racks over a pan to catch drippings.  Set over to 150 degrees F, leaving the oven door slightly open.  Dry for about one hour, turn strips over and to dry for an additional hour.  When completed, the fish jerky should  bend but not break.  For safety an internal temperature should reach 160 degrees.


Just like red meat jerky, fish jerky needs to be stored in a cool dry place, frozen or vacuum packed to enjoy later.


Check back – next time when we’ll look at how to prepare cured and smoked salmon.  Not exactly jerky – but so delicious !!





[1] The Complete Jerky Book