Staples of the Calontiri War Diet – Jenna’s Jerky

Article and Recipe by Mistress ‘Col. Jenna’ of Southwind, with foreward by Sir Halvgrim. Originally Published in the Bird of Prey Online, Volume 7 Jan-Mar 2003 Issue

I don’t know about you guys but when I am at war there is one food that seems to be the staple of my diet (I know there are others of you out there too!), Jenna’s Jerky.

In fact Jerky, Fighter Biscuits and Pop Tarts have gotten me thru more that one war when funds were low;) 

Now to be clear, I don’t mean I have lived off the Jerky she provides for the Army, I mean that I have used/tinkered with her recipe to make my own. If I can do it anyone can!  No real special packing and or storage methods are needed which is a real bonus IMO.  And i have even modified her original recipes and have come up with some real personal favorites that I could be glad to share with interested folks. (I personally like to substitute the Worcestershire sauce with A1 Bold and Spicy Steak Sauce in the Sex Red Wine recipe and my wife made a real good batch recently just using Italian dressing and a few spices, catch me at Estrella if you’d like to sample it;)!)

Anyway, for the past two weekends I (and the wife while I was at WWM) have been busy marinating and dehydrating so I wanted to include Jenna’s recipes just in case there is someone out there who reads this e-mag but didn’t know about Jenna’s online article.



Sex Red Wine Jerky*
the Calontir Army Standard
adapted from a recipe by Tamara Tysjachyvolosova 


When making jerky, obtain the leanest meat you can get your hands on, and cut it thin — 1/4” or less.  I have the luck that my butchers will slice it for me on their machine.  Slightly frozen meat is easier to cut thin, if you do not have a friendly butcher. (Keep your butcher friendly — bring them samples, and tip them occasionally.) Thinner slices dry crisper and keep longer, thicker slices are chewier but harder to dry properly and keep safely.  Tamara recommends brisket or flank cuts.  I use rump roast, and when I can eye of round.  For best preservation, trim off all the fat and ‘ooky bits’ you can, esp. if you are taking jerky to a hot war.  (I know only two people who like the flavour of rancid fat.)



The following marinade treats 3-5# sliced meat:


  • 1-1/2 cup (12 oz) soy sauce — I use low-salt

  • 1-1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

  • 1-1/2 cup water, beer, or rich red wine — I use port

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke

  • 2 heaping teaspoons crushed red peppers


For tastiest results, mix the spices into the wine and steep for a week or so before using.


Put the meat in the marinade.  Cover, and refrigerate overnight.  As the spices may impart a flavour to plastic, watch what container you use.  I have a container that is used for nothing else.  Using paper towels or very clean cloth towels you don’t mind staining, blot the bejunders out of the meat strips — the dryer it is, the quicker it will dehydrate, and the less mess in your oven or dehydrator.  Lay the meat strips out on the racks, in a single layer with no overlaps.  Sprinkle with fresh black pepper if desired.


If you use an oven, line the bottom with foil or you will be very sorry.  Set the oven to 140 deg F.  Turn the jerky over every 2 hours.  It will take 8-12 hours total.


If you have a dehydrator, you will be much happier and make better jerky, as well as avoiding heating up the kitchen.  Set to 140 deg F and check every two hours.  If you have an air-circulating model you will not have to turn the jerky, and it will go much faster. 


The jerky is done when it turns very dark, oil beads up (on cheaper cuts), and it has a leathery flexibility that it will lose as it cools.  Gently blot the oil beads with a paper towel, and let cool before putting in a sealed bag or jar.  Keep out of excessive heat and light; do not refrigerate, as this will cause condensation when you take it out.  It should last 6 months but no one has ever managed to keep any around long enough to find that out!


One tip — beware of possible effects on pets and family members of the spices in the air.  They can be highly irritating to eyes and lungs if the jerky is spicy.  In the worst case scenario, my father once made a horribly spicy shrimp boil that hurt everyone’s eyes, and within 48 hours both our parakeet and my white mouse were dead.

Because a person newly or precariously on the wagon should not be offered anything made with alcohol or the flavor thereof, it is the our moral responsibility to make no more than 50% of the jerky with an alcohol-based marinade, and to offer an attractive alternative jerky at the same time as the alcohol-based jerky.  Because of this, and possible food allergies, the person handing out the jerky should announce what they have to offer.

The basis for this position on alcohol in food and the alcoholic is based on information from the University of Kansas Rainbow Alcohol and Drug Rehab Unit obtained in the late 1970’s, backed by two decades of personal experience.]

To make Lemonflepper Jerky, substitute 1-1/2 teaspoons of lemon pepper for the 2t crushed red peppers, and use water instead of red wine in the marinade.  This is the our non-alcoholic offering, for those who must or want to avoid even the flavour of alcohol, or who just like lemon pepper.

This and many other great tips for support of an SCA army can be found in Mistress Jenna’s article, “Running a Fighter-Support Field Kitchen” or by the name it has become more affectionately known by, “How to run a Soup

*‘sex’ refers to sextuple the original amount of pepper, ‘red’ refers to the type of pepper and the red wine

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