This is more of a note on the process rather than a recipe, but this was a good a place as any to put this.
I purchased and tried a Nesco Jerky gun (model BJX). The cheapest place I found it was at Walmart for $14.98 with free shipping if you do site-to-store and pick it up yourself (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Nesco-American-Harvest-Jumbo-Jerky-Works-Kit/12337723).
The BJX model will usually be listed with a number (i.e. BJX-8). This number is the number of spice packages included with the gun, which is something I just had to figure out because it wasn’t really spelled out anywhere that I could find. The gun comes with 3 tips for round (Slim Jim style), narrow strips, or a wider strip. I used the narrow strips tip for my first attempt.
The process couldn’t be simpler. Mix a cure packet and season packet into 1 lb of ground meat, unscrew and load the meat into the clear plastic tube of the gun, screw the clear plastic tube back onto the handle assembly and select a tip to use, which is held on by a plastic screw-on collar.
Using the gun is just like using a caulking gun. I did 6″ long strips directly onto parchment paper covered racks. To end the strip just push the tip into the rack or cut with a knife.
You may be able to eliminate the paper but it was easier when it came time to flip the jerky as it didn’t stick to the racks. I dehydrated it for an hour then flipped the strips directly onto the racks and dehydrated for another 1.5 hrs, then removed, pat dry, and placed in a resealable plastic bag.
Note: My dehydrator reaches up to 175F, so your dehydration time may vary.
I used 80% lean ground beef. Shrinkage wasn’t too bad but I pat it dry to soak up any excess grease from the hamburger. A potentially better option would be to buy a top or bottom round roast on sale and ask the butcher to grind it up for you. They will generally do this for free, and it will be leaner AND less expensive.
I tried the Cracked Pepper & Garlic seasoning mix with the dual strip tip on the gun and the end result was surprisingly good. It tasted like a mild Slim Jim. It even felt like there was a very thin casing on the finished product, but there of course wasn’t. My gun came with 2 each of 4 different flavor packets.
I also tried the Hot & Spicy Jerky with ground venison using the round tip. It was actually surprisingly spicy but the venison is pretty lean and didn’t hold together as well as the hamburg, but it did work if you didn’t drag the gun too fast when squeezing the trigger. There was also no grease to pat dry like the hamburg.
The other flavors that came with the gun were Teriyaki and Original Jerky and I hope to try them soon.
I have to say I was a bit skeptical on how this would work but it made a believer out of me. Clean-up was pretty easy and there was no slicing/marinating involved, which is an extra chore in itself. Definitely well worth the $15.
As I get time, I plan to make and try my own dry mix recipes/s and will post them on my site when I do.
Update: I made turkey jerky with 93% lean ground turkey. I was concerned it wouldn’t hold together because of the lack of fat, but it turned out fine. I did add about 1 tablespoon of water to the meat but I don’t think it was necessary. I used the Cracked Pepper & Garlic mix and it was very tasty.
NOTE: My dehydrator reaches temps of 175F. If yours does not you will want to finish this off in the oven at 200F for 30 minutes or so to make sure any harmful bacteria is killed.