Wednesday 05 February, 2014

The Filet Mignon of Beef Jerky–Literally

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Recently my daughter referred to me as "The Snack Monster." I'm not sure what that's about--I suppose I'm no stranger to nibbling in between meal times, but when I do, I try to make it reasonably healthy.

That said, I admit I indulge in jerky often enough (usually beef, turkey on occasion, but have avoided the pork versions so far. Something just doesn't seem right about that.) following a general rule that protein is better than carbs most of the time--especially when it's the simple carbs from corn and potato based chips. However, the downside of most commercially packaged jerky is the amount of sodium and chemical preservatives in them, not to mention questionably meat quality.

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That's why I was pleased to try Three Jerks Jerky, coming from food-forward Venice, CA, and made in three flavor profiles from filet mignon with no nitrates/nitrites/msg or anything artificial. The worst thing on the ingredient list is a bit of sodium benzoate as a preservative (guaranteed you're consuming more of that elsewhere).

Tenderness is certainly the dominant quality here, the jerky is toothsome but soft, not at all the leathery effect you often get from other dried beef. The original flavor is sweet and peppery, dominated by the Worcestershire sauce in the recipe.

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Memphis Brand BBQ flavor is smoky, spicy and sweet in that order, dominated by notes of paprika, black pepper, garlic and cayenne. I wouldn't necessarily identify it as what I think of Memphis BBQ--its not that sweet (oddly has less sugar than the regular flavor)--but more as a southwest, New Mexico kind of flavor. Not mad at it though.

Most appealing was the Chipotle Adobo flavor, a combination of Mexican and Filipino sauces that actually still had the bay leafs in the package with the beef! Unfortunately, the rather lengthy ingredient list is dominated by tomato ketchup, high fructose corn syrup and wine with sulfites above the tamarind extract and pasila chile... so this one doesn't necessarily seem like an overly 'natural' recipe.

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On that note, while using filet mignon is a great hook, Three Jerks doesn't actually specify the quality of the beef (it could be sub-choice for all we know.) I would personally rather have jerky made from a lesser cut of a better animal--one raised grass fed, on organic feed without hormones. That kind of thing.

Especially when you consider the pricing: retail on the web is at least three times the average cost of conventional jerky. I would accept two times the cost as an understandable premium, but $40.00 for 7.5 ounces of dried meat? I think I might be better off getting a steak to go from The Palm and letting it dessicate on my car seat.

Three Jerks Jerky