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    Recipes: DIY beef jerky

    The high-protein, delicious snack is having a moment.

    beef jerky
    Photographs by anthony tieuli; food styling by Sheila jarnes/Ennis inc.

    Jerky is more popular than ever as a high-protein, low-carb, mighty tasty snack. Store-bought jerky ranges from wretched to artisan, and the good stuff is pricey. If you’re inclined to make your own, it’s an easy — though not quick — project, even without a dehydrator.

    Lean, inexpensive cuts from the round, the cow’s rear leg, are common for jerky. I prefer eye of round, but you can use top round (though it tastes slightly livery) or bottom round. Whichever cut you use, trim away all the visible fat.

    Flavoring possibilities abound. Here we have a basic Worcestershire-flavored version, a peppery variation, and a surprising (to me, at least) use for jerky in a lighter, fresher, yet still substantial take on classic layered dip, an ever-popular snack for the Super Bowl.

    CLASSIC BEEF JERKY

    Makes about 4 cups of approximately 1-inch pieces

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    The beef should be sliced about 3/8-inch thick—a great knife-skills exercise. Many recipes suggest having the meat department at the store slice it for you, which is certainly easy. However, when I tried it, the meat was either too thin or thick. So, with a sharp slicing knife in hand, I suggest handling the task yourself. Partially freeze the meat first to firm it up for easier slicing.

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    Note that you’ll need 2 rimmed baking sheets and wire racks that fit into them. This recipe is adapted from foodwishes.com.

    ¾      cup soy sauce

    ¾      cup Worcestershire sauce

    3        tablespoons honey

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    1         tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

    1         tablespoon smoked paprika

    ½      teaspoon cayenne

    1         tablespoon garlic powder

    1         tablespoon onion powder

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    2        pounds beef eye of round, all visible surface fat trimmed, sliced 3/8-inch thick

    In a large bowl, whisk the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and honey to dissolve and incorporate the honey. Add the black pepper, smoked paprika, cayenne, and garlic and onion powders and whisk to distribute. Working one slice at a time, dip the meat in the marinade, thoroughly coating. Arrange the slices in the bowl so they’re nearly submerged, cover the bowl, and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours, turning and resubmerging the slices halfway through.

    With the racks in the upper- and lower-middle positions, heat the oven to 175 degrees. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment or foil. Set a wire rack in each baking sheet and set aside. Remove the beef slices from the marinade, allowing as much liquid as possible to drip off, and dry them well with a double or triple thickness of paper towels.

    Arrange the dried slices on the wire racks (the edges can touch but shouldn’t overlap), place the baking sheets in the oven, and prop the oven door open with the handle of a wooden spoon to help moisture escape. Bake until the beef slices are dark, somewhat dry, and firm to the touch yet still pliable, about 3½ to 4 hours, turning the slices and rotating and reversing the sheets halfway through.

    Remove the sheets from the oven, pat the beef slices dry with paper towels if necessary, and cool on the racks for about an hour (the slices will firm up slightly as they cool). Cut into 1-inch pieces (or another size you prefer) and serve or store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

    VARIATION: THREE-PEPPER TERIYAKI BEEF JERKY

    Makes about 4 cups of approximately 1-inch pieces

    Follow the recipe for Classic Beef Jerky as directed, using the following mixture for the marinade:

    ¾      cup mirin

    ½      cup soy sauce

    2        tablespoons rice vinegar

    ¼      cup honey

    1         tablespoon garlic powder

    2        tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

    1½    tablespoons freshly ground white pepper

    ½      teaspoon cayenne

    TIP: SLICING KNIFE

    A sharp knife designed specifically for slicing, with a long, shallow blade (around 1¼ inches from spine to cutting edge, as opposed to the wider blade typical of a chef’s knife), is best for cutting very thin slices of meat. With less surface area, the blade of a slicing knife creates less drag as you slice, making the process easier to control.
    Anthony Tieuli
    A sharp knife designed specifically for slicing, with a long, shallow blade (around 1¼ inches from spine to cutting edge, as opposed to the wider blade typical of a chef’s knife), is best for cutting very thin slices of meat. With less surface area, the blade of a slicing knife creates less drag as you slice, making the process easier to control.

    FIVE-LAYER DIP WITH BEEF JERKY

    Serves 8 to 10

    Inspired by a recipe from kravejerky.com, this dip replaces ground beef with chopped jerky.

    I like to build the dip in a shallow vessel — a 9-inch glass pie plate is ideal — and provide a serving spoon and small plates so people can make individual portions. Serve large, sturdy chips that will stand up to the substantial dip.

    For the beans

    1         teaspoon pressed or grated garlic (about 1 large clove)

    1         tablespoon fresh lime juice

    Salt and ground black pepper

    ¼      cup extra-virgin olive oil

    1         (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed

    2        tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

     

    For the mango salsa

    1         large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and flesh cut into ¼-inch dice (about 1 cup)

    ½      medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch dice (about 2/3 cup)

    ¼      cup minced shallot (about 1 medium)

    1         tablespoon fresh lime juice, or more, to taste

    2        teaspoons honey, or more, to taste

    1         teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

    2        teaspoons minced seeded serrano chili, or more, to taste

    Salt and ground black pepper

    2        tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

    For the guacamole

    2        large ripe Hass avocados, halved and pitted

    1         teaspoon pressed or grated garlic (about 1 large clove)

    1         teaspoon minced seeded serrano chili, or more, to taste

    Salt and ground black pepper

    3        tablespoons fresh lime juice

     

    To finish and serve the dip

    1         pint cherry or grape tomatoes (about 2 cups or 10 ounces), quartered, about ¼ cup reserved

    1         cup finely diced beef jerky

    2   tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

    Tortilla or pita chips, for serving

    In a medium bowl, whisk the garlic, lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste to dissolve the salt. Vigorously whisk in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the beans, toss to combine, and set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Add the cilantro and stir to mix. Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and black pepper if necessary, and set aside.

    In a small bowl, mix the mango, bell pepper, shallot, lime juice, honey, olive oil, serrano chili, ¼ teaspoon salt, black pepper to taste, and cilantro until well combined (you should have about 1¾ cups). Adjust the seasoning with additional salt, black pepper, lime juice, honey, and serrano chili if necessary, and set aside.

    Scoop the avocado flesh into a medium bowl, add the garlic, serrano chili, ¾ teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste, and stir with a fork, mashing the avocado roughly, to combine. Add the lime juice and stir gently until combined but still chunky (you should have about 1¾ cups). Adjust the seasoning with additional salt and black pepper if necessary, and set aside.

    Assemble the dip: Spread the bean mixture in a shallow serving dish, such as a 9-inch pie plate. In the now-empty bowl that held the beans, toss the larger quantity of tomatoes with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste; spread it over the beans. Spread the guacamole evenly over the tomatoes, then the mango salsa over the guacamole. Sprinkle the jerky evenly over the salsa. Top with the reserved tomatoes, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cilantro, and serve at once with tortilla or pita chips.

    Adam Ried appears regularly on “America’s Test Kitchen.” Send comments to cooking@globe.com. Follow us on Twitter @BostonGlobeMag.