I have been making beef jerky for a few years now and have settled on a recipe I like a lot and use the majority of the time. It includes cracked black peppercorns which add a pepper flavor to the marinade, which gets absorbed by the meat, but also (ideally) sticks to the sides of the meat.
What I find is that by the time the jerky is done, at least half of the peppercorn pieces are in the bottom of the dehydrator or in the colander I use for draining the marinade.
I am careful not to dump much marinade on the beef already in the colander. I start by dumping it off to the side until most of it is gone, then the beef slides out into the colander with only a tiny bit of marinade left. I do not appear to be losing many peppercorns to the rinsing effect of dumping the liquid marinade over the peppered beef.
One or twice during dehydration I flip the beef pieces for more even drying. I try to avoid brushing off any peppercorns, but invariably I lose quite a few.
How can I get more cracked peppercorns to stick to the finished product of my homemade beef jerky?
- Can my technique be improved?
- Is there an ingredient I can add to the marinade to encourage the peppercorns and beef to stick together without altering the flavor?
- Something else?
The recipe is very basic but very good: for each cut of flank steak (approximately 1.5 lbs) I add one bottle of Worcestershire, fill the bottle with water and add that, two tablespoons of salt, and two tablespoons of cracked peppercorns. This all goes in a one gallon Ziplok bag, and the bags all go in a plastic container to prevent spills/leakage in the fridge overnight. I sometimes add other spices, but I find the core ingredients are often very strong and flavorful enough.