Trail Chef: World's Best Beef Jerky

Whip up a batch of this easy and delicious homemade jerky tonight!
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Whip up a batch of this easy and delicious homemade jerky tonight!

Last fall in Olympic National Park, I had an epiphany: Beef jerky is amazing. Up until that moment, a rock-hard chunk of Jeff Foxworthy-flavored meat was the last thing I wanted on the trail (or ever, really). But once I sampled a bite of Assistant Online Editor (and blogger extraordinaire) Ted Alvarez's signature recipe, I was totally converted.

Even better than the roll-your-eyes-heavenward taste of this stuff? It's surprisingly easy to make, even if you don't have a dedicated food dehydrator in your kitchen. Here's Ted's favorite recipe—honed to perfection after months of experimentation. If I were you, I'd plan a backpacking trip this weekend just to have an excuse to make some tonight.

Ted's Herky Jerky

Makes enough for 2 jerky lovers for 2 to 3 days.

1 to 1.5 pounds flank steak

2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce

2/3 cup soy sauce

1 finely minced clove garlic (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder)

2 to 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons onion powder

1 teaspoon liquid smoke

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or red pepper flakes)

1. Trim excess fat from the steaks.

2. Place meat and remaining ingredients in a gallon-size, zip-top freezer bag. Squish everything around for about 10 minutes, until all powder clumps are broken up and ingredients are well-mixed.

3. Place in refrigerator and marinate three to six hours.

4. When you're done marinating, evenly distribute the strips of meat across the trays of your dehydrator (oven version: Put them directly on the racks, with a sheet of aluminum foil below to aid cleanup). Set the dehydrator (or oven) to 155 degrees and bake jerky for seven to 10 hours, checking and patting dry every few hours.

5. When jerky is fully dry, pack in a zip-top bag and enjoy.

Not enough jerky for you? Try your hand at these burger and Teriyaki elk versions. Have your own killer jerky concoction? By all means, share it in the comments section below.

—Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan

Image credit: bennymoto