Coming up with creative (and not boring) paleo snacks can be a big challenge, especially if you're going on the road and you can't pack a huge cooler. Have you ever tried to find a quick, paleo-compliant meal at an airport? It usually can't be done.
Fortunately, with the invention of meat drying came the opportunity to make healthy food portable. The Native peoples of North America learned to dry lean meat with smoke and sun until it could be pounded into a powdery consistency. The meat was then mixed with melted fat or grease from animals and sometimes dried berries. This tasty and high-energy meal was called "pemmican," and it allowed for long-term storage of summer food abundance, as well as easy portability of calories.
There isn't any meat-pounding or fat-mixing involved in this recipe, adapted from America's Test Kitchen's Paleo Perfected cookbook, but it is an easy and quick way to create a portable paleo snack. This paleo beef jerky recipe is designed to be simple with only four ingredients. You can create your own unique flavors by adding or altering the spices listed here.
Try adding ground coriander, black pepper, crushed red pepper, or any other delicious seasoning combinations that might be your personal favorites. The key is to ensure the meat has enough time to "soak up" the flavor before popping the jerky into the oven or dehydrator. You could add wet ingredients, too, like paleo ketchup, coconut aminos, or dijon mustard, but you might have to increase the drying time to make up for the additional moisture.
You may think it takes a lot of time and effort to make beef jerky at home, but it is surprisingly easy and fast. The trick to slicing flank steak without breaking your knife (or your hand) is to put your thawed flank steak into the freezer for 15-30 minutes before you cut it. This firms up the meat enough that it slices much more easily than if you were to pull it out of the refrigerator.
Safety tip! When drying meat at low temperatures you should always follow recommended temperature and drying times to ensure that all pathogens are destroyed.
Makes approximately 8 oz. dried beef jerky
Recipe adapted from America's Test Kitchen
Jerky can be stored at room temperature for several weeks, but it will last longer when stored in the refrigerator or freezer. It's always a great idea to make a large batch and have it on hand - just in case!