Paleo Beef Jerky
Why This Recipe Works
There are few things better suited to the paleo pantry than homemade beef jerky: Just a few seasonings and a low oven transform flank steak into an addictive, protein-packed snack. With this in mind, we set out to create a foolproof, flavorful recipe. Before being dried, the meat is almost always rubbed with salt and sometimes spices, which aid in preservation as well as flavoring. In modern jerky-making practices, this step is often achieved by soaking the meat in a salty liquid called a “wet-cure,” which is essentially a marinade. Although nearly every homemade jerky recipe we found opted for this approach, we decided to go with a dry-rub method. There were two reasons for this decision: First, the wet-cure had a tendency to dilute the meat’s flavor and break down its texture. We wanted jerky that was well seasoned but still had the texture and taste of beef. Second, there was the time consideration. Why add moisture to something you ultimately intend to dry? For our rub, we used salt and pepper along with paprika, fennel, and coriander to elevate the natural flavor of beefy flank steak. We also added a small amount of maple sugar to the rub, since its subtle sweetness would complement the earthy spices. We found that cutting the steak thin—into 1/8-inch-thick strips—and placing the strips on a wire rack during oven-drying greatly shortened the cooking time. For jerky that was more tender, we sliced the meat against the grain, while slicing with the grain yielded a chewier jerky.