|Jerky Ready for Chewing|
Photo by: Lord-Williams
Anton Montoro in his 15th C work Cancionaro claims that the origin is Jewish as they used it instead of salt pork and ham. The Archpriest of Hita relates that Christians were eating jerky along with salt pork 14th century when the epoch poem was written.
Jerky is found especially in Astorga and had become one of the most important gastronomic dishes in the entire province of León by the 10th C at least. Then beef jerky was sold in the markets of León.
It was known as a Jewish item as far south as Cordoba. Actually, jerked meat in southern regions meant salted meat. It is principally from beef and goat. This cured or jerked meat has a molasses color.
Historically, it is peasant food as the majority of households annually slaughtered a cow and two pigs to make homemade cured meats, including jerky, and for fresh meat as well. It is an ancestral food item of austere populations and known previously as castrated meat (from goat, lamb and/or roe deer). The oldest animals of the herd are fattened during three months in the farmyard for this purpose. They are slaughtered between St. Martin’s Day (November 11th) and the Immaculate Conception (December 8th).
The meat is cured by placing the pieces in a trough and covering them with salt for 24 hours in order to absorb an adequate amount. Then the salt is brushed off. The meat is then marinated for 24 hours in a mixture of salt, long pepper, wine, garlic, thyme, oregano and nutmeg. Then it is prepared to hang from a kitchen beam or rafter.
Sas believes that stanza 2255b in the Libro de Alexandre, written between 1178-1250 should read: after the jerked meat was hung, the roots for kindling were brought [in January], i.e. çenisa (ash) is a transcription error for the word should be çeçina. The meat is cured by burning holm oak branches and cabbage stumps in the kitchen fireplace. With the arrival of spring, people begin to eat the pieces. Instead of such a long smoking process, jerky may be aired for 14 months in the wind on a mountain peak. Lamb jerky is thought to be the most delicious. That of goat is the toughest. Game too was cured in this way.
Jerky, also, is cured in a similar fashion since time immemorial in the Highlands of Scotland. To be called a “jerk” in León or Scotland, must be a compliment.
2. an animal designated for jerky during its lifetime. See castrón, cierzo and chivo.
[Anón/Huici. 1965:286:164; Bercero/Janer. 1983:271:2255b; Castro. Alimentación. 1996:249; Dialecto. 1947:174; ES: “Cecina de León.” Nov 25, 02; ES: Fortun. Mar 8, 02; ES: Sartori. Oct. 2, 02; ES: Wilson. Jun 9, 02; Montoro/Ciceri. 1991:200-203; Ruíz/Brey. 1965:1093a :177; Sánchez-Albornoz. 2000:34:39; Sas. 1976:130; and Tapiello. 1994:138]
PREPARING MALLOW WITH JERKED MEAT ADAPTED FROM HUICI’S TRANSLATION OF #286 HECHURA DE MALVA CON HARINA, p 164
|Strips of Beef Drying on a Spit in the Oven|
Photo by: Lord-Williams
1 lb rump roast
1 c chickpeas
1 tsp coriander seed
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 bunch mallow leaves
1 tbsp flour
Remove all fat from the roast. If fat is left the jerky will quickly become rancid. Thinly slice the rump roast. Pound the slices with a pestle in a mortar to make the meat thinner. Then cut each slice into 1/8-1/4” strips. Hang these on a spit. Turn oven on to the lowest temperature. Secure the spit in the oven and let dry for 9-10 hours.
|A Heavenly Dish for Jerks|
Photo by Lord-Williams
Soak the chickpeas over night.
The next day shed the jerky and put it in a pot. Add the chickpeas. Chop the onion herbs, spices and oil. Cook for about 1 hour or until chickpeas are done. Remove the pot from the heat.
In the meantime, wash the mallow leaves. Strain off the water and finely chop.
Strain the jerky and chickpeas saving the broth in a pot. Heat this adding the flour. When the liquid begins to thicken remove it from the heat and add 2 beaten eggs. Pour this over the jerky and chickpeas blending all together.
This was a good winter dish prior to the slaughter when only cured meat and fish were available.