Play around with the recipe all you want, but two rules should be followed:
- Keep the ratio of salt and soy sauce to meat accurate
- If you dry your jerky in a smoker, use a cure.
In anything other than a smoker you can safely omit the cure — though many people prefer the taste of cured jerky.
Cure is found under multiple names. A couple are “Prague Powder #1” or “Instacure #1”. They may be available from your butcher but are easily found online. No matter what the name, cure is a pinkish 1:16 salt/Sodium nitrite mixture (6.25% sodium nitrite).
Some recipes just call it “pink salt” but don’t get confused — that term is also used nowadays for salt mined in the Himalayan mountains, which naturally bears a pink color but is NOT a cure.
Or you can use “Morton Tender Quick”, which is available at most grocery stores.
This recipe works equally well with ground or sliced venison. If substituting domestic meat, use only lean cuts. When slicing, 3/8″ is a good thickness to aim for, but however you slice it try to be consistent throughout a batch.
Many cuts will work but I find round roasts are the best. Trim the meat well before slicing. Traditionally jerky is sliced with the grain, but you can always slice against the grain if you prefer your jerky crumbly rather than chewy.