This is a “master” recipe because, with all the options available, I don’t want to be overly specific. Follow these general guidelines and you will have a delicious chewable strip of meat.
Beef round steak, 2 lbs or so, semi-frozen then sliced very thin
1/2 cup “salty”: soy sauce, Worchestershire sauce, fish sauce (nam pla) or a combination
1/4 cup “sweet”: honey, maple syrup or brown sugar
1 t ground or 1 T leaf “spices”: a non-subtle spice or mixture that you like. Lots of folks like to include some sage. I used Penzey’s “Bangkok Blend” (I guess I was inspired by the nam pla) and added some red pepper flakes.
Freeze beef until semi frozen yet not too hard to slice. Slice as thin as you can into strips, across the grain. Discard any prominent fat. Place in a zip loc bag with the other ingredients and marinate overnight or longer, squishing the bag from time to time to be sure all surfaces are equally exposed.
Next, you are going to cook the meat dry but without removing any of the flavorings. There are various ways to do this if you are patient. After you have smoked a brisket or turkey in your smoker, lay the strips of beef across the grill after and let cook overnight while the fire is dying. Or just put them on a silicone pad and cook for several hours at 160-170 degrees or as low as your oven will go.
Your objective is to end up with very dry beef strips. If yours aren’t ready, put them in the refrigerator and resume the next day. Finally, you’ll have pretty dry beef. Take a paper towel and wipe off any fat since that’s the part that gets rancid. Keeps several weeks and is great for camping/hiking trips.
COMMENT: So weird that the prices of beef cuts have reversed, and a good old fashioned round steak costs half of what they charge for innards. Jerky is the way to score on this opportunity. And you don’t need a dehydrator or large amounts of special ingredients to be a success.