Friday, September 6, 2013

Z-Jerky - Delicious Way To Use Giant Zucchini

Zucchini (A.K.A. "courgette" if you're French or British) is like the rabbit of the plant proliferates proficiently!  Not only do you get a LOT of zucchini from each plant, but they grow so fast that if you miss one when it's 3 inches long you come back 3 days later to find it 3 feet long!  The question is what do you do with those giant zucchini that "get away" from you.  The answer isn't zucchini bread because that only uses a cup or two of grated zucchini.  You need a delicious recipe that will use up 5 or 10 pounds at a time.   I've faced this quandary a lot this summer.  One of my discoveries was  Z-Pineapple and I've made and canned that twice now.  However, I had a recent flash of insight when I read that zucchini is 95% water.  If you could make something delicious with dried zucchini you could use up a bunch of those big bloated beasts.  Then it struck me--maybe if I simmered some zucchini in savory flavorings and dried it I could make something akin to jerky.  It turns out I was right ;-).

I called my discovery Z-Jerky.  They are chewy savory strips of "jerky" made from overgrown zucchini.  They taste so good I'll never again regret having "get away" from me--maybe I'll let a few of them become overgrown on purpose!

Here's how to make your own Z-Jerky:

  • 5 lbs. Large Zucchini - ends cut off, peeled, and sliced into finger-thick slabs
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Teriyaki Sauce (I used Yoshida's Original Gourmet Sweet & Savory)
  • 1/8 cup Olive Oil
  • 4 Tbsp Beef Base (I used "Better-Than-Boullion" brand)
  • 2 Tbsp Liquid Smoke
  • 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1 tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 tsp Smoked Paprika
Mix together everything but the zucchini in a large frying pan and then add the zucchini.  Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes, turning the mixture occasionally to ensure all the zucchini are evenly coated and cooked.  Lift the zucchini out of the liquid with tongs (you can reuse the remaining liquid as a base for stir-fry or in a soup) and place on the racks of a food dryer.  Don't worry about the seeds--they dry nicely and add to the texture and chewiness plus they're filled with nutrients.  Dry the zucchini until you get thin chewy jerky-like strips (took me 12 - 18 hours).  Store in an airtight bag and enjoy them on your next hike, picnic, in school lunches, or (like I do) for secret snacking.

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