Route 66 Beef Jerky is a brand produced by Old Santa Fe Trail, Inc., based out of Albuquerque, NM. It's a small operation employing nine people. They've been making jerky since 1988, and make it from their own USDA approved facility. If you find yourself travelling down historic Route 66 in Albuquerque, you can stop at their store and buy some.
Like many other gourmet brands, they market their jerky as being "all natural, with no preservatives". In addition to this original variety, they also offer peppered, red chile, and green chile varieties.
The tastes I pick up from the surface of these pieces is a mild meaty aroma, and after several seconds, I can pick up a bit of salt. In the chewing, I get the natural meat flavors, and a moderate amount of saltiness.
This jerky seems to be about as old fashioned as "old fashioned" can get. If indigenous people made jerky by salting it and drying it, that's all that this is.
This jerky isn't much good for sucking on first, and then chewing. All the enjoyment comes from chewing it right away.
The natural meat flavors are well pronounced in this jerky. It has a very fresh taste, and the taste is very much what I would get from a steak grilled well-done.
The level of salt intensity is somewhere between light and moderate. Some pieces have more salt intensity than others.
The dominant taste of this jerky is the natural meat flavors, with the saltiness as the second-most.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small, medium, and large sizes.
This is very dry jerky, extremely dry. It's very crunchy. I keep thinking I'm biting into a tortilla chip, except it has a meaty texture. It's very easy to bite off, and moderately easy to chew.
The chewing texture, once a piece hydrates in my mouth, is exactly like a steak cooked well-done.
The pieces don't leave any residue on my fingers, and I don't find any fragments falling into my lap, though I've been pretty careful in biting pieces off.
I do find small bits of fat on a few pieces, and other pieces have some membranous connective tissues. But I don't find any gristle or tendon.
I paid $9.75 for this 4 ounce package from Route 66's website. That works out to a price of $2.44 per ounce, making this an expensive jerky. It's worth noting that this price includes shipping and handling.
For general jerky snacking purposes, it has a weak value. I do find a good deal of snackability in this, but it's mostly the high price that'll prevent me from buying this again. If this jerky offered more taste interest, perhaps with some garlic, or black pepper, or hickory smoke, I'd see it as slightly better value. Perhaps if you visited the store, you could get this at a lower price, and it would be a good value.
I'm giving this an average rating.
As I said above, I do find a good deal of snackability, and that's enough to boost this rating up to average. The crunchiness of this jerky actually gives it more snacking satisfaction. With its strong natural meat flavor, and steak-like chewing texture, this is basically a dehydrated steak, lightly salted.
But to me, it's the seasonings and marinade that differentiates jerky from dried steak. This original variety from Route 66 is perhaps just one or two ingredients away from being good. Instead, it's bland and I keep wanting to add something to this.
And I actually did that. I pulled out a bottle of Cholula hot sauce from my fridge, and dabbled drops on these pieces and found it much more enjoyable. As crunchy as this is, this'll be great with some salsa verde. It'd be just like munching on some tortilla chips, except that it tastes and chews like meat.
This might also be good with some garlic & onion flavored cream cheese.
I think that a porter would make an excellent companion beer, the dark roasted malt flavor would go well with this jerky's natural meat flavors.
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