Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Avi's beef jerky

One of my favorite things to cook when I was a teenager was beef jerky. And not just any beef jerky. This stuff was worlds better than that teriyaki cardboard in the store. These were thick and meaty strips, pungent with soy sauce and worchestershire sauce and hickory smoke, and covered in minced garlic, black pepper, and chili flakes. Spicy as hell, addictive, and as Avi proved, dangerous in large quantities.
There are many, er well, some things I am generous with, but sadly, food is not one of them. My beef jerky took a lot of time to make, not to mention cost (3 lbs of flank steak at $7/lb yeilded about 1 lb beef jerky), and I confess I hoarded it away and shared sparingly. Just slicing the steak into 1/4" strips and trimming all the fat off took about an hour. After marinading the meat for 5 hours I had to hang it on racks, blow dry it with a fan, and then smoke it for 12 hours, changing the wood chip pan every hour for the first 3 hours. It was quite an elaborate procedure, and one of the only ways you'd ever see me up before 7 am was when I was checking my beef jerky.
My high school friends I were professionals at cleaning out each other's fridges and cupboards. You could say it was our calling card. Over to Mike's house, pour the 6-pack of coke into the coffee pitcher to pass around, empty the nutri-grain box. Over to Fina's, wipe out their stashes of homemade frozen tamales and sky ginger ale. Avi's, straight Mango chutney in a bowl. So needless to say, I was always a bit anxious when Avi, our skinniest friend with the most insatiable appetite, would come to my house after I'd made a fresh batch of beef jerky. I can't blame Avi alone on the rapid evaporation of my jerky stockpile, but he certainly contributed.
Ah, but one day the gods were just. Avi had come over to hang out at my house, probably on a weekend, and consumed 1/2 lb of beef jerky. Covered in chili flakes and garlic, mind you. Marinated in soy sauce and worchestershire, that's like 25,000 grams of sodium. Anyway, he got sick from it and totally barfed. And to this day he cannot stomach my beef jerky. Sad perhaps, but the cows of America and my wallet are better off for it.
I scanned in a couple of my (originally my Dad's) beef jerky recipes, so as to preserve the authentic memos and battle stains.


Your Mom said...

Please don't post anything else unless it's written in Avi's nutjob handwriting and covered in red & green smudges.

pa said...

Notes from C's pa -

I'd like all to note that my last recipe for beef jerky was dated 8/10/85. You should note that by this time, C was a 10 yr. old jerky-head (crack had not yet been invented).

By 1993 he'd substituted fresh garlic and chili pepper flakes for the lame garlic and onion powders of the '80s. Is this not called the Evolution of the Species? Imagine what their kids' recipes will be like....

Of course, if you eat a 1/2 lb. of this stuff and then end up spending 3 hours sitting in the dark at 4 a.m. on a toilet, then maybe it's called Survival of the Fittest and hopefully you will have learned your lesson. Probably not. I haven't.

In my old age, I've learned that beef jerky is the elixir of maleness... machismo... manhood. Whereas women vainly seek that elusive expensive cream to meld onto their eyelids to make the wrinkles go away, their men are out on the patio making beef jerky and drinking beer.... (see note above about Survival of the Fittest).

Ethan said...

Well of course there's the lamb vindaloo sagas, and also the 99 cent ranch chronicles.

Clearly a strong influence in your culinary upbringing was that your mom had every spice and seasoning ever conceived.

And don't forget durian ice cream - a holiday favorite.

Looking forward to the future posts...