Box Fan Homemade Jerky :)

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by fourstringdrums, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Hey guys, I'm sure there are quite a few beef jerky lovers here, so I wanted to share a recipe/method for homemade jerky that I just tried. I got it off of FoodNetwork from the show "Good Eats". This method doesn't doesn't require a dehydrator or the use of your oven. Here's all you need:


    1 20" Box Fan
    2-4 20x20x1 Furnace Filters
    2 "Bungie" cords with hook ends


    1 1/2 - 2lbs of flank steak (top round or brisket works well too)
    2/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
    2/3 cup soy sauce
    2 teaspoons ground black pepper (pre-ground pepper is fine)
    2 teaspoons onion powder
    1 teaspoon liquid smoke
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1 tablespoon honey

    Preparing the Meat:

    Put the steak in the freezer for about 2 hours so that it firms up a bit, this will make it easier to cut. Before freezing I flattened the meat a bit because it was a bit too thick for my taste. Also it gives you more slices this way.

    Once the steak is firmed up a bit, but not totally frozen, cut the steak into thin strips, going with the grain of the meat. Equal length isn't important. I actually cut the meat in half first, and then cut each half into strips. It made for easier cutting and made the strips at the length I prefered.

    After cutting, place the meat in a zip lock bag. You can either add all the ingredients to the bag directly or mix them in a bowl and then put them in the bag. After the marinade is in the bag, make sure most of the air is out and manipulate the bag so the marinade covers all the meat.

    Stick the bag in a bowl and stash in the fridge for 3-6 hours. Any less than 3 hours and the meat won't cure, any more than 6 and things will get really salty. I left mine in for about 4 hours, although next time I might go for 5.

    After the meat is done marinating, take it out and drain the meat. First I dumped the meat into a spaghetti strainer and drained it that way. Then I laid all the strips out on a few layers of paper towels on a cookie sheet, with more paper towels on top and patted them dry.

    Dehydrating the Meat:

    After draining and drying the meat lay the strips into the slats of your furnace filter. For 1 1/2lb's of meat I only needed one filter, but you may need more. (*note, these aren't my pics, I got them here


    Stack all the filters you use on top of one another and then place and empty filter on top of the stack. All together I wouldn't use more than 4 filters at one time. Lay your box fan on the table with the front facing up and put the filters on top. Secure them to the fan by wrapping each bungie cord around the fan and securing the hooks in the rear fan grate.


    Stand the fan upright and turn it on high. You can point the fan out a window so your house doesn't smell like drying meat. As it's winter and I don't mind the smell, I just put the fan down in my workshop. Let the meat stay like this for about 12 hours, although you should check it after 8 hours. Depending on how thick you slice the meat and the density of the filters, and how many filters you have on the fan, it may take more or less time. The batch I made today with one filter took about 9 1/2 hours although I let it go to 12 to see if I could get the consistancy more to my liking (more below on that).

    My Impressions:

    Like I said, this is my first time making homemade jerky, let alone jerky with this method. It came out pretty good, although next time I may add a bit more liquid smoke and worcestershire sauce next time. The honey acts as something to prevent the meat from drying out too much. Some pieces of jerky came out with a bit more "spongy" chewyness in the middle than I prefer, so that might mean I need less honey, or I sliced the pieces alittle too thick. I may also try a different meat. I originally checked it after 10 hours and after 13 hours it still hadn't changed much. But it's still good, just not quite perfect yet :)

    Cost effectiveness wise, I'd say you'll save about $5 vs. buying the jerky in a store, or you'll atleast wind up with the same $ to amount ratio. There is a brand I like around here that is about $4 a bag and excluding the pieces I ate while testing the doneness of it, I'd say that I got about 5 bags worth. Considering that the meat was $10, and if I always can get away with using 2 filters at $2.99 each, I'll wind up spending $16 to get about $20 worth of jerky. Not bad. I wouldn't recommend reusing the filters as they will get really fuzzy, dirty and that may affect the flavor if you try different marinades.

    If anyone else has heard about this method or if someone tries it, let me know what you think of it :)

  2. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    I don't see the point of this when it's so easy to do it in your oven. Last time I made it I took one huge breast from a big turkey that I killed and turned it into a bunch of turkey jerky.

    brad cook
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  3. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    I prefer to use a smoker, but that would be a nifty idea for a person with no access to an oven.
  4. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    That's the only reason I can really see for doing it that way. A college kid could probably make some decent money whipping up and selling some box fan jerky in the dorms.

    brad cook
  5. Adam Barkley

    Adam Barkley Mayday!

    Aug 26, 2003
    Jackson, MS
    I'm a college student, but we have an oven on the 6 floor so I doubt I could corner that market. Who knows.
  6. OrionManMatt


    Feb 17, 2004
    I bet Alton Brown did that, didn't he? He's famous for off-the-wall stuff in cooking, but make no mistake about it, that guy can cook.
  7. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Yea, I mentioned that's where I got it.

    The reason why he doesn't advise using a dehydrator or the oven is because both methods cook the meat and change the temperature and you have to really watch it. With this method it still dries out but the flavor doesn't change and you can basically just let it sit. You can put it on and leave for the day if you have to, where as an oven you couldn't do that.
  8. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Alton Brown is the man. My whole family piles around the TV to watch his show whenever we can. I bought his first book for my wife, and the food around the table improved markedly. I missed the box-fan-beef-jerky episode, but I'm picking up furnace filters next time I'm at OSH. Thanks!