The Moo You Chew: One Man’s Quest to Make the Perfect Homemade JerkyMay 23, 2023 03:15PM ● By Dwain Hebda
Adam Flohr has made a career of his fascination with food. The 37-year-old bartender is in the process of opening a pizza kitchen in Council Bluffs, having taught himself the art of the perfect pie. So, when the idea struck him a year ago to tackle another favorite food, the Sioux City native was more than game to create a healthier and less-costly snack.
“I was tired of buying the jerky in the stores that has sugar in it and you just don’t really know what you’re getting,” he said. “Basically, I just wanted to see if I could do it.”
Flohr borrowed a friend’s food dehydrator and looked online and on the bags of his favorite store-bought brands to create an amalgam recipe, leaving out the undesirable ingredients. The first batch turned out “fantastic,” he said, inspiring him to invest in his own device. Repetition has proven a good teacher, and success all starts with the meat, he said.
“Make sure there’s not too much fat. You want to buy lean meat; otherwise your shelf life is really going to diminish quickly,” he said. “I use eye round. That’s the go-to for most people that do this.
“I’ve used rump roast before and that turned out pretty good, too. You can also do some flank steak; a couple dollars more a pound but certainly tasty.”
So tasty, in fact, that when asked for certain details—such as yield—Flohr just shrugs, claiming he eats it too fast to remember to weigh it. However, celebrity chef Alton Brown’s recipe on foodnetwork.com calls for 1.5 to 2 pounds of meat, yielding 10 to 12 ounces of jerky.
Whatever protein you use, other prep elements can greatly impact drying time and the quality of the final product, Flohr said.
“When you’re cutting with the grain, it’s going to be chewier because you’re going with the length,” he said. “When you’re going against the grain, it’s easier to eat. But I like the chewy version, so I go with the grain. I also like to cut mine thinner.”
Jerky can be made in the oven, but Flohr recommends a food dehydrator. He said batches take about three hours (not counting the 24-hour soak he gives the sliced raw meat in his soy sauce-based marinade before drying). He recommends his Cosori six-tray model for its speed, overall engineering, and compact size, which uses less counterspace than round models.
As for seasoning, the world is the jerky-maker’s oyster, but Flohr likes to keep things fundamental.
“Chipotle is about all I’ve done as of right now,” he said. “I’m a pretty simple guy. I do like varieties of jerky, but I just haven’t had the ambition to do any other than normal. And I don’t want to kill myself with the ghost pepper chilis.”
Flohr said at present, he has no plans to commercialize his creation, satisfied instead to make and share small batches with friends as he finalizes plans for his next food venture. Besides, it’s all he can do to keep himself and his pals stocked at present.
“That first batch didn’t even last a day, to be honest with you. It was just fantastic,” he said. “There’s never been a surplus amount of it since then; it just gets consumed.”