Big Game Bologna Jerky
By Chef and Author, Eileen Clarke
This Bologna Jerky recipe is from Eileen Clarke’s newest wild game cookbook, available Christmas 2019. Tentatively titled The Wild Jerky Handbook, there are more than 100 recipes for deer, elk, waterfowl, moose, bear, wild pig, turkey, antelope—using everything from whiskey and beer to herbs and smoke, Dr Pepper and Worcestershire Sauce—as well as guidelines for commercial meat if you don’t get lucky this hunting season. (It happens.) Right now, she’s rechecking her recipes. Can’t wait? Another of her cookbooks, titled: Tenderize the Wild has 100 marinades, brines and rubs for everything we hunt, and Slice of the Wild covers big game, from bullet to fork: 100 game recipes, 40+ side dishes and 80 lavishly illustrated pages of the latest in game care. New hunter in your family? Or brother-in-law who turns backstraps into hockey pucks? Help is here: www.riflesandrecipes.com or 406-521-0273
For this recipe, Chef Eileen shares: Foodies like to talk about ‘flavor profiles’, but that’s not what we’re talking about today. Bologna Jerky doesn’t stand in silent profile: it jumps right into your face, with dynamic flavor. Bologna was already a favorite lunch box item for every American kid, and jerky is one of our favorite snacks–in the woods or out—so why not bologna jerky? It seemed like a natural, to me. (And the folks who’ve been taste-testing my new, all–jerky cookbook recipes agree – this is one of their favorites.)
Let’s begin with the prep. This is a brine and, while brines can be messy, they also do a better job of evenly distributing the spices as well as tenderizing wild meat than either a dry rub or marinade. To prevent leakage, use a gallon-sized zip lock type bag, press the air out, seal it carefully, then place the whole thing in a deep mixing bowl—zip lock edge up. That will eliminate spills. Brine in the fridge 48-72 hours.
1 pound red meat*, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
*Any big game animal will work
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon non-iodized salt (also called canning salt)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon garlic granules or dried minced garlic
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon powdered mustard
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pat the sliced venison with paper towels so it’s not drippy when you add it to the brine, or it will dilute the flavor. Mix the rest of the ingredients in a gallon-sized zip lock bag, add the meat slices and mix them into the brine so all pieces are exposed to the brine. Brine 48-72 hours in the refrigerator, giving the meat a stir once a day to let the flavor reach all surfaces.
Preheat the oven to 160°F. Arrange the meat strips on wire mesh grids over a foil-lined pan. Cook at 160°F for 3 hours, turn the oven off and let the jerky cool in the closed oven.
I use a dehydrator a lot for jerky—but I’ve tested it to make sure it runs at 160-165⁰F consistently. Some don’t. So test yours with an oven thermometer: If it doesn’t maintain 160-165⁰ for hours on end, use the oven. Also, always pre-heat to 160⁰F before starting your jerky. Starting low and working up can toughen up any microbes/germs present and make them harder to kill later.