If you like your jerky with a true smoky flavor, consider making it either on the grill or in the smoker. In either case you would prepare the meat the same. Strips – sliced and marinated. The bit of research I did for this did not mention using either of these processes for making jerky sticks and I would think that sticks made from ground meat would not be recommended due to the fact that there is more exposure to bacteria with ground meat versus sliced meat. Not to mention that maintaining a constant temperature on a grill or smoker is not as easy as setting the dial on a dehydrator.
- Have meat ready to place on grill
- Prepare the grill by placing charcoal on one side and lighting it off. Allow it to burn down to hot embers.
- Place meat on a foil-lined, fire proof tray in a single layer.
- Cover with another sheet of foil.
- Place prepared meat strips on the side of the grill opposite the embers. DO NOT place the tray directly over the heat source.
- Control the heat to keep the temperature at about 150 degrees.
Note: If your grill does not have a thermometer, you may need to purchase a thermometer in order to monitor the temperature.
- Cook for approximately 3-5 hours covered making sure the temperature stays consistent at 150 degrees. The amount of time will depend on the thickness of the slices, type of meat and type of grill.
- Remove the foil and cook for an additional hour.
- The meat should now be dried out.
- Allow to cool and enjoy.
If you do not have a gas grill with a thermostat, then you’ll need to control the temperature by manipulating the charcoal. This can be accomplished by either adding more charcoal to increase the heat or spreading out the embers to cool down. It is not recommended that the temperature be higher than the 150 degrees.
- Add soaked wood chips to the charcoal for more smoke.
- The longer you cook the more crunchy; the less you cook, the more chewy.
The process for using a smoker is basically the same for grilling. Have the meat ready, etc. and set the temperature to the same – 150 degrees.
A charcoal smoker will need to be tended much like a grill, while an electric smoker will require less maintenance since the temperature can be set using a thermostat. If using an electric smoker, you may find you will need to use a smoke box to get the desired smoky flavor. (You can also use a smoke box on a gas grill for a smoky flavor.)
As with grilling, you’ll want to cook the jerky until dry.
A thought would be that since the jerky absorbs the smoky flavor within the first 2-3 hours, if the jerky drying process is not complete after the first 2-3 hours, you may want to consider finishing the process in an oven (pre-heated) or in a dehydrator.