House of Jerky is one of those great American success stories of where the little guy (or in this case, gal), creates a product that out-does the big guys, markets the product without a giant budget, and manages to create a successful empire with outlets all over the country.
I first learned of this brand by visiting a local beef jerky shop in Temecula several years ago. While I always liked the taste, I never seemed to purchase much of it, mainly because you don't find this in the big chain grocery stores. And since I've always been a junk food pig at heart, convenience has always been my weakness.
If you've been reading this blog regularly, you might have figured out that I haven't been reviewing much of the "regular" and "original" varieties of jerky. I have this presumption that any regular beef jerky probably just tastes like salt or soy sauce. I like complex tastes, that merge several flavors, and keep me guessing what I'm tasting. But since House of Jerky sent me this review sample on their own dime, how could I not resist?
Beef (top round), water, soy sauce, seasonings (salt, sugar, garlic, black pepper), pineapple juice, white vinegar, liquid smoke, black pepper.
The first thing that strikes me is that this contains a lot of flavor. I'd say the first thing I taste is the soy sauce, followed by the saltiness, followed up by the liquid smoke. Finally, the last taste that comes out is the black pepper.
These pieces also provide plenty of natural meat flavors, more so when you keep a piece in your mouth for 15-20 seconds, then suck out the juices. Being that this jerky contains no preservatives, I wondered if it would have a bit of that "rank" meat taste, but no. It still offers a fresh taste due to the vacuum sealed package, along with the oxygen absorber. If there were any staleness to this, it would have been masked by the intense flavorings.
There is actually a fair amount of black pepper in this. If you like peppered jerky, but you don't like it heavily peppered, you might prefer this natural style instead.
Overall, this is a very tasty jerky. Considering this is effectively the company's plain variety, it's packed with a lot of flavor, and offers some contrast between the soy sauce, smokiness, black pepper, and natural meat flavors.
These appear to be real cuts of meat, sliced thin to medium, and in medium to large pieces.
This review sample is dry, but is not tough. It tears apart easily, and is moderately easy to chew. The thinner pieces break apart more easily.
I found some small patches of tendon, but in sparse amounts. Otherwise, no gristle. These pieces do contain some slight marbilization of fat, and I found a couple pieces to have some larger chunks of fat. That's a plus for me, but perhaps other folks may not appreciate any fat at all.
This jerky variety also fairly clean, leaving your fingers dry.
House of Jerky sells this Natural Style beef jerky from its website at a price of $10.50 for a four-ounce package, making that $2.63 per ounce. That prices includes the shipping.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.63 price per ounce, I'd say that it offers a good value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability for its great overall flavor, good meat consistency, and good chewing texture. That price is higher than you'd pay for a Jack Link's or Oberto at the grocery store, but you're getting a lot better flavor and consistency.
I'm going to give this is a "best" rating.
For a plain variety of jerky, it's hardly plain. With lots of flavor, ease of tearing and chewing, a great natural meat flavor, and offers it without preservation chemicals, this is clearly a beef jerky worth savoring.
But you might find it difficult to savor because it's so snackable, keeping me reaching for more and more.
While I did get this review sample for free, I honestly tried to find some reason to knock the rating down another notch, but I think what kept me from doing so was the variety of flavors I taste in this jerky, being it's the company's plain variety.
For my recommended beer pairing, I'd go with a brown ale, preferably a Big Sky Moose Drool, or a Newcastle Brown Ale.Rating: Best
Originally reviewed June 10, 2008.
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