Uncle Steve’s Hot! Jerky

This Caribbean pepper is famous for being the hottest chile pepper in the world. They come in a variety of shapes and colors(yellow, orange,green, red,chocolate). Not only are they extremely hot, but they also have a unique,distinctively fruity flavor.

It is the key ingredient in the popular Jamaican Jerk sauce. The habanero is also widely used in many different types of hot sauces. The popularity of this chile pepper continues to grow and is becoming easier to find on the grocery shelf.

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5 lbs beef brisket or venison cut into thin strips
1 large fresh white onion, finely chopped, or 1/4 cup onion powder
1 large head of fresh garlic, minced, or 3 Tbsp garlic powder
1 bottle liquid smoke (4 oz)
1 1/2 cups soy sauce
3/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp steak sauce, such as A-1
1 tsp MSG (such as Accent seasoning)
2 tsp seasoned salt
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves
1/3 cup black pepper, ground fresh
1/4 cup brown sugar or molasses
6 whole fresh Habanero chiles with seeds
1 Tbsp dried pequin chili pepper with seeds
2 Tbsp Uncle Steve’s #1 HOT spice mix or 4 TBSP cayenne chile powder


Prepare meat by cutting strips 3/4″ X 1/2″ and as long as you prefer. Cut across grain for tender and lengthwise for chewy. The more consistent you are when cutting the strips, the more evenly your jerky will dry. Very cold or lightly frozen meat cuts easier.

Mix all ingredients in blender except meat and cayenne. Soak strips of meat in the above mixture and refrigerate for 24-48 hours in a close container (I use a Tupperware® bread box). Shake several times to mix well.

Remove meat from brine (save brine) and pat dry. Place directly on oven racks that have been covered with tin foil and sprayed with Pam. Cook in pre-heated oven @ 160°F for 2 hours (with door closed). This kills bacteria, removes a lot of the excess moisture, and melts any excess fat. Return hot strips to brine mixture and refrigerate for another 6-12 hours (remember to shake several times). Remove meat from brine, pat dry, and sprinkle with cayenne powder. Spread in dehydrator. Set dehydrator at 145°F. The final drying usually takes about another 6-10 hours. Do not over dry (Check every hour). Jerky should be tough, hard, and leathery, not brittle. A real mouth watering HOT treat! Enjoy.

If you don’t have a dehydrator, return jerky to 140-150°F oven for 6-8 hours, leaving door open a little. Do not over cook. Check texture often.

An alternative for the drying is to use a low heat smoker (cold smoking is generally done at 90 to 115 F. over 5-10 days). Leave out the Liquid Smoke® and add 1/8 cup more salt in the marinade. Remove meat from marinde, pat dry, sprinkle on the cayenne, then put into the prepared smoker. I have done this several times and my taste buds have always voted this method first place. It takes longer, you need some equipment (if you have a smoke house you are truly blessed), and time spent tending the fire, but the result is worth every hour. Also look at “Dan’s Smokehouse Jerky” recipe for details on cold smoking.

Store refrigerated or freeze in closed containers for long storage time (if not consumed in 4-5 weeks)

Note – Venison has always cooked faster for me than beef (less moisture?). So check it more frequently.

Yields about 1.5 – 2 lbs. dried jerky.

By Steve Nearman at ushotstuff.com