The best ones are usually just your favorite combination of spices. Personally I vary my marinade depending on what I feel like but most time it’s ends up with at least soy sauce, brown sugar, pepper, and a cup or 2 of whiskey.
3-4 lbs of thinly sliced meat
1/3 cup Worcestershire
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1-2 tbsp black pepper (depends on how spicy you want it)
1 tsp cayenne pepper (if you like it spicy)
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp dry mustard (optional)
honey (if you want some sweetness to balance the spiciness)
1 tsp curing salt
I don't measure the honey. I just dump some in. Don't use sugar because it will crystallize. Play around with all the other measurements to get it how you would like it. I use liquid smoke because I use an electric dehydrator. Also don't be afraid to reach of other stuff on the spice rack. I've added ground ginger in the past too.
I was hoping someone would chime in about smoking.
When you smoke are you smoking it around 160 or much higher/lower? From what little I’ve learned about smoking you need to get the meat through the “danger zone” as quickly as possibly...i know jerky is thin so it won’t take nearly as long.
That said, after smoking i assume it still definitely needs to be further dehydrated for storing unrefrigerated?
I'm going to be blunt but it's an important point haha. Too many people get sick from their own cooking and or the neighbor's at his grilling event. The rules are pretty simple...
It's venison not beef from a meat counter, so as long as you processed it, you used a clean cutting board and you followed normal food safety, it's actually probably safe to eat raw. Don't worry about food borne illnesses because it'll go from the fridge to the cutting board, then to the smoker at 160 or more, or even less and hang there for a couple hours. There's no worries. In addition you are then going to dry it. Those food borne illness bacteria need proper temps, proper environment, and moisture. If you take away the moisture you are all good sir. Here's an easy way to remember it below.
FAT TOM - bacteria needs the following:
Food - your venison
Acidity - the right pH
Time - reproduction of the bacteria (you can tolerate more than you think)
Temp - think danger zone
Oxygen - this one is tricky because some don't
Moisture - think jerky
Last thing to think about...Alaskan's dry salmon in the fall when it's wet and dreary on sticks around a campfire...I don't think proper heat control is too important and I doubt they use a thermometer to test it. Just follow the rules above and you should be fine.