Sunday, August 14, 2011
Dashboard Beef Jerky
Our latest foray into dashboard dining is a blast from the past ... beef jerky! With our record summer temps this year above 100 degrees for 40 days in a row, we thought we'd try an ancient method of food preservation: drying meat in the sun.
According to "The History of Beef Jerky," Since prehistoric times, one of the oldest methods of preserving food was drying it in the sun. In North and South America, native Americans dried strips of deer, elk and buffalo in the sun to eat later. In the land later called Peru, a tribe called the Quechua (part of the Inca empire) dried meat and called it ch'arki. This term later became charqui and then jerky. In later years, North American pioneers dried meat by smoking it or by draping it over the outside of their covered wagons for two to three days as they headed westward.
At our house, my husband is a big beef jerky fan and usually makes his jerky in the oven or in his smoker. But last week he decided to try making his beef jerky on the dashboard of our Suburban because it was about 105 degrees, and the inside of the car gets really hot when it sits outside in the sun all day long.
First he bought some thinly cut beef strips and marinated them. Then he laid them over racks atop the car dashboard.
The jerky sat in the sun for several hours, with the car windows cracked open so the meat could dry more easily.
My husband said the jerky drying actually went more quickly than he anticipated. It came out perfectly and used no electricity to make. Just think how much easier and faster it could have been for the pioneers if they had had Suburbans instead of Conestogas!
And of course, we had to taste-test the car food to make sure it was safe to eat. In this case, the boys ate it all by the next day! Luckily for us, it didn't have to last us weeks on the trail.
Next up in car cookery: pizza bagels.