Jerky is the process of cooking meat, then drying it for later consumption. There are several ways to make jerky, including drying, smoking and curing the meat, but the most important aspect of making jerky is choosing the right kind of meat. Beef flank steak, venison, tenderloin and rump roast are among the best choices for jerky because they tend to be lean and flavorful.
Beef Flank Steak
Beef flank steak is lean meat cut from a cow's abdominal muscle. It is thin and flat in shape and is widely used in stir-fry dishes, fajita recipes and London broil. Beef flank steak cooks in a short period of time, but it should be well marinated, as it can be a tougher cut of meat. The flank steak should be sliced across the grain for additional tenderness.
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Venison is considered "game meat," and includes meat from deer, elk and moose. Venison tends to be very lean and much more aromatic and flavorful than beef. There is little fat on venison, which means that you may have to add oils to retain the meat's juicy quality. Venison shouldn't be overcooked as it becomes hard very quickly.
Beef tenderloin is a boneless cut of meat from the the hip section of the cow. The tenderloin is the most tender cut steak available, and is often used in restaurants to make filet mignons. Because this cut of meat is so tender, it doesn't need to be marinated and should be medium-cooked to retain its best flavor.
Rump roast makes for good jerky because it comes from the hindquarter of the cow where the big muscles make for a lean cut of meat. However, rump roast can be tough to chew so you should marinate it prior to cooking to help tenderize the meat and bring out more of the flavor. Rump roasts can be braised or roasted and are often sliced thin for roast beef sandwiches in delis and restaurants.