Outdoors Column: They Think I Can Cook

The local symphony orchestra has a fundraiser each year called “Twenty-Five Men That Can Cook.” It is an informal competition among 25 five men that have varying degrees of cooking abilities. I am sure cooking skill is not a prerequisite since when I was asked to compete, they did not ask if I could cook or if I could even boil water. It should be an interesting competition as I imagine some guys are good cooks.

Since I am the “famous” outdoorsman, the committee thought it would be good if I prepared something pertaining to wild game. I make a really mean butter/garlic grilled deer loin medallions but I do not have enough deer loins to give 300 people a sample. I found out about the competition early enough, I could get an extra deer and have it all ground into burger. I now have enough deer burger to make jerky for the expected crowd. My deer jerky is my second best recipe. It is a bit time consuming to make but is as good as any store bought jerky and better than most. If you would like to try a sample, stop by Bridge View Center on Saturday between 11:00 and 1:00. I also have advance tickets for sale. There probably will be some other good foods there to sample as well. In case you cannot make the event, you can make your own jerky with my recipe.


Deer Jerky (or whatever meat you have)



5 pounds lean ground meat

4 tsp garlic powder

3 tsp dry ground mustard

2 tsp onion powder

3 tsp ground cayenne

3 Tbls Tender Quick

1 cup soy sauce

1 cup water


Assuming your deer burger is frozen, thaw it first. Mix the spices and water together and then add mixture to the meat. Stir or mix very well. I use my wife’s mixer on low speed for several minutes. It does a good job and she does not mind too much if I clean it well afterward. Low speed keeps the meat from flying all over the kitchen. That she does mind.

A person can roll the meat between two sheets of waxed paper and cut into strips but I prefer to use a jerky gun. A jerky gun looks like a caulk gun and saves a lot of time. It shoots out strips or sticks of uniform size. I purchased my first jerky gun at O’Hara True Value. After a few years when it wore out, I got an industrial model from a national outdoors store.

Put your uncured jerky on dryer racks in a food dehydrator or the racks of a smoker. Depending on how dry you like your jerky, leave in on for 6 to 12 hours. In a smoker, I run about eight hours at 180 degrees. With a dehydrator, you do not get to set the temperature. What there is is what you get. I usually put it on at 7 or 8 in the evening and take it off when I get up in the morning.  By then, it is well done and the whole house has the wonderful smell of jerky. I think it is great. My wife, not so much.  Five pound of meat will make about 2 1/2 pound of jerky. I am not sure how long jerky can be stored but I do know it will keep longer than it takes for it all to get eaten.