Jerky fuels long-distance hikes and makes for a convenient snack on road trips, but if you only eat dried meat between meals, you’re missing out. Adding a few strips of beef jerky to the pot is an easy way to pump up both the protein and flavor of your meals. Here are five delicious recipes that prove beef jerky can be so much more than a snack.
1. Curried Fried Rice with Beef Jerky
A little bit of chopped beef jerky adds some savory flavor to this fried rice recipe from Food & Wine. If you like, you can prep the rice, jerky, and mushrooms one day ahead of time and then finish the dish just before serving.
- 1 cup long-grain rice, rinsed and drained
- 1½ cups water, plus 2½ cups boiling water
- 3 ounces beef jerky, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 large dried tree ear mushroom or 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1½ tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- ½ small sweet potato or 1 medium carrot, cut into ½-inch pieces
- One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 1½ teaspoons curry powder
- ½ cup toasted whole almonds
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 scallion, thinly sliced
Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine the rice with the 1½ cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat for 12 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover, fluff the rice and let cool completely.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, pour 2 cups of the boiling water over the beef jerky. Cover and let stand until pliable, about 30 minutes. Drain the jerky and coarsely chop it.
In a small bowl, cover the tree ear mushroom with the remaining ½ cup of boiling water and let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain and chop the tree ear into 1-inch pieces; if using shiitakes, discard the stems and chop the caps.
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion, sweet potato, and ginger, and cook over low heat, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the beef jerky, mushrooms, and almonds. Stir-fry until heated through. Add the rice and soy sauce and stir-fry to break up the rice and heat it through. Season with salt. Stir in the scallion and serve.
Charquican is a Chilean stew traditionally made with ch’arki, a kind of South American jerky. (We actually got our word for dried and preserved meat from the original Quechua term.) This version of the hearty potato, squash, and beef dish comes from Recipe Island.
- 1 medium winter squash, cubed
- 6 medium potatoes, cubed
- 1 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 cup peas
- 1 cup corn
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can beef broth
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ pound beef jerky, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
Directions: Combine the squash, potatoes, carrot, peas, corn, and broth in a large pot and bring to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a pan, then add the chopped beef jerky and onion, and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, oregano, and cumin, plus a little more salt and pepper, and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the beef mixture to the squash and potatoes, and simmer for 15 minutes. Serve.
3. Jerky Tomato Sauce
Beef jerky is the secret ingredient in this quick tomato sauce recipe from Alton Brown (via the Cooking Channel). Make sure that you soften the meat in boiling water before adding it to the pot so the beef is not too tough. Serve the finished sauce over pasta or rice.
- 3 to 4 ounces beef jerky
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped green pepper
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ¼ cup heavy cream
Directions: Cut the jerky into bite-sized pieces using kitchen shears. Place in a bowl with 1 cup of boiling water and set aside.
Add the vegetable oil, onion, bell pepper, and kosher salt to a 12-inch sauté pan and turn the heat to medium. Sweat for 4 to 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes. Add the jerky and the soaking liquid, along with the tomatoes, parsley, and cream, and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened slightly. Serve.
4. Vietnamese Papaya and Beef Jerky Salad
This tasty Vietnamese salad contains just three ingredients, which means you can throw it together in a matter of minutes. It’s an ideal post-workout snack, light meal, or appetizer. You should be able to find green papayas at most Asian markets, where you may also be able to buy Vietnamese-style jerky. If not, you can try making your own. Recipe from Hungry Huy.
- 1 green papaya (about 2 pounds, shredded)
- ⅓ pound beef jerky, cut into strips
- Thai basil, cut into strips
- ½ cup soy sauce
- ¾ cup sugar
- ¾ cup vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- Sriracha, chili paste, or sliced bird’s eye chiles to taste (optional)
Directions: To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until fully combined.
Peel the papaya and remove the seeds. Shred the papaya (use a mandoline slicer if you have one). Combine the shredded papaya with the basil. Top with the strips of beef jerky and the dressing, then serve.
5. DIY Spicy Kimchi Beef Instant Noodles
Instant ramen addicts will want to try this recipe for do-it-yourself instant noodle soup from Serious Eats. Beef jerky, chili-garlic sauce, kimchi, and scallions bring flavor to this dish rather than relying on the mysterious contents of a spice packet. Storing the prepared ingredients in resealable glass jars makes this an easy make-ahead lunch for the work week. You’ll need four jars for this recipe.
- 4 tablespoons beef base
- 2 cups kimchi with juices
- 4 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce
- 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
- 4 ounces beef jerky, cut into ½-inch squares
- 4 small nests of rice noodles
- 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
Directions: Divide beef base, kimchi, chili-garlic sauce, mushrooms, beef, and noodles between 4 resealable glass jars. Divide scallions between 4 small zipper-lock bags and seal bags, squeezing out all of the air. Tuck bags into jars and seal. Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
When ready to serve, remove scallion packet and add boiling water to the top of the jar. Seal jar and let sit 2 minutes. Open jar, stir in scallions, and serve.
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