Beef sticks, also known as snack sticks or slim jims, are a popular on-the-go meat treat and a staple in sausage making. They are a cousin of jerky, thinner in diameter, and can be made from various meats like pork, beef, venison, or a mix of wild game. The preparation process involves a blend of ground beef and pork with a range of spices like pepper, sriracha powder, and garlic powder, creating a flavorful mix.
One key aspect of making beef sticks is the smoking process. It’s crucial to apply a low level of heat to dry the meat without cooking it, maintaining a consistent temperature below 200°F. This can be challenging with some smokers, which struggle to keep the temperature low.
The recipe involves mixing ground beef, pork sausage, mustard seed, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, curing salt, black pepper, caraway seed, cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. After refrigerating the mixture overnight, it’s stuffed into casings and smoked at a low temperature, typically between 150°F and 160°F, for 1½ to 2 hours.
You can also cook beef sticks in the oven. Preheat your oven to a low temperature, around 175°F, and bake the beef sticks on a wire rack for several hours until they’re fully dried and slightly chewy, being careful to prevent burning.
Once formed, the beef sticks need to be cured for 24-48 hours to develop flavor and texture. This step involves air-drying them on a wire rack in a cool, dry place, allowing the flavors to meld and the sticks to achieve a slightly firm texture.
Beef sticks have become a cult favorite in the United States, known for their long shelf life and no refrigeration requirement. They come in various flavors and textures, making them a versatile snack option.