Tuesday, July 1, 2008

House of Jerky - Venison Black Pepper

House of Jerky - Venison Black PepperHouse of Jerky is a husband and wife venture that got started here just down the road where I'm writing this, and sadly enough, moved to Indiana to set up its national headquarters. Nothing against Indiana, it seems California can't keep a good company within its borders.

But when I'm out touring around other towns, and happen to see a beef jerky shop, I'll walk in, and 9 times out of 10 its an outlet for House of Jerky. The brand is very well represented in those small touristy towns, and along roadside stands.

Venison (deer meat), is always a curiosity with me when I see it on the menu, or in a jerky shop. While I've had venison jerky before, and other venison dishes, I can't say that I'm expert with it. But I do know that venison is an extremely lean meat, and because of that it's often tough.

Deer are adapted to sprint and run for long distances. Because of that, their muscles are rich with blood. This gives the meat a sweet and smooth taste, similar to that of eating liver, but with the consistency of meat.

Ingredients

Venison steak, water, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar, pineapple juice, liquid smoke, black pepper, garlic powder, white pepper.

Taste

In biting off a piece, what I taste right away is the black pepper. I didn't see much black pepper on this piece (there's only one piece in this review sample). But I can still taste it. However, it's doesn't have the intense black pepper taste that the company's black pepper varieties for beef and buffalo had.

I can also taste the soy sauce in this, but it's not as well evident as in the company's other offerings.

So does it taste like venison? Well, yes it does. I can't say that this tastes "gamey" at all. It retains the sweet and smooth character that I described earlier.

Overall, I found this venison jerky as enjoyable. While it's a black pepper variety, I don't find an abundance of black pepper flavor. In fact, all the flavorings are rather subtle in this piece. But I think that's actually fine with venison. I want to taste the venison when I eat venison jerky, and to add more flavorings would overshadow the natural meat flavors.

Meat Consistency

This is a real cut of meat, sliced very thick, and in a medium sized piece.

It's dry, but retaining some slight moisture. It's rather tough, just like all of the other venison jerky brands I've had. While it will take some effort to tear off a piece, it does eat a little easier.

The biggest complaint I have with this is that there is a thin membrane covering each side of this piece. This membrane doesn't chew. So when I've chewed up a piece, I have this piece of chewy membrane left in my mouth that feels something like a piece of cloth.

The bottom photo below illustrates the membrane pulled away from the actual muscle. After taking that photo, I attempted to pull off as much of this membrane as I could, but could only remove so much. Removing this membrane also meant removing much of the seasonings.

Otherwise, I didn't find any tendon or gristle. There was just one tiny spot of fat, which is visible in the first photo. It's a very lean piece of meat.

The meat consistency is largely ok. I wouldn't mind this being rather tough to tear apart, because it's not as tough to chew. But the chewy membrane surrounding this piece, on both sides, detracted from the overall enjoyment. Perhaps House of Jerky could get their meat processor to remove this?

House of Jerky - Venison Black Pepper

House of Jerky - Venison Black Pepper

House of Jerky - Venison Black Pepper

Product Value

House of Jerky sells this Venison Black Pepper variety from their website at a price of $13.50 for a 4oz bag. That works out to a price of $3.38 per oz. That puts this in the high price category.

While in the high price category, I still think this is a great value. It's a great tasting piece of venison, and while rather tough to tear apart, it chews a lot easier. I'm hoping that it was only this piece of venison that had the chewy membrane.

As a black pepper variety, you're not going to taste an abundance of black pepper. You might be disappointed in that regards. It's probably better that House of Jerky simply label this as venison jerky, and not black pepper venison. You wouldn't want a ton of black pepper on this anyways. You eat venison jerky for the venison, not for the black pepper. If you want black pepper, get the company's beef jerky.

Rating

House of Jerky - Venison Black PepperI'm giving this a "good" rating.

I would have given this the "best" rating, except for that problem with the membrane. It detracted from the enjoyment quite a bit for me. I tried to ignore it, and just swallow the membrane, but everytime I bit off a piece I kept feeling that "piece of cloth" in my mouth. Finally, I felt compelled to remove as much of the membrane as I could, and that resulted in removing much of the seasonings.

Otherwise, it's a great tasting piece of venison jerky, that retains every bit of the character that makes venison unique. While it's seasonings are more subtle than in the company's other animal varieties, I think that's fine because I want to enjoy the venison.

Rating: Good

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