Continuing on with my four-part series on Butler's Smokehouse, is this habanero variety. The small, family run smokehouse located in Stephenville, TX is headed by Micah and Lacy Butler, who got this started in 1999.
In addition to jerky, they offer smoked hams, turkeys, and cheeses. All of their jerky is made at their own USDA inspected facility, using USA-raised cattle.
Butler's Smokehouse has a world-wide contract to supply jerky to Operation Beef-Up Our Troops, a program ran by the USO to provide jerky to American soldiers.
Beef, worcestershire sauce, water, salt, habanero peppers, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, sodium nitrite.
The flavors I pick up from the surface of these pieces starts with a smoky meaty aroma, followed by a slight sweetness, a faint bit of the habanero pepper, and a faint saltiness. In the chewing, the flavors I get starts with a lot more saltiness, a spicy burn on my tongue, and a faint natural meat flavor.
As for being a habanero variety, I do pick up a slight chile pepper flavor, but it's more noticeable as a chile pepper burn. This jerky appears to have bits of chiles stuck to its surface, but in tasting these bits I don't get any chile flavor. The burn itself probably rates about a medium on my hot scale.
The overall flavor of this jerky is mostly a salty flavor. Try to imagine a moderate-to-high saltiness, mixed with a medium-level of habanero chile flavor and burn, and a slight bit of garlic, and a slight bit of natural meat flavor. That's the chewing flavor. I actually do get a smoky flavor when I first put a piece into my mouth, but that flavor tends to fade away quickly, or perhaps gets overtaken by the chewing flavors.
There's also a greasy flavor in some of these pieces. I think the vacuum-packaging has drawn the oil up to the surface of some pieces and adds this new flavor component.
The natural meat flavors are in here, but they're light. But I'd have to suck out the juices and think about it, otherwise I don't really notice it under normal snacking activity.
Overall, the most dominant flavor of this jerky is the saltiness, with the habanero flavor and burn being second-dominant. The garlic is also strong, taking third place. The natural meat flavors are evident, but too light to be considered dominant.
These appear to be slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky, though some pieces may appear to be more moist. I find that it has more to do with an oiliness than just moisture. Most pieces seem to tear apart easily enough with my hands, though the chewing is more tough.
The chewing texture tends to feel like a steak cooked medium to well done, being very meaty and fibrous. I don't get any kind of crumbly or mushy texture. Initially, it's rather hard and tough, but seems to soften up with enough chewing. Some pieces have a rubbery quality in the first few chews, but breaks down quickly. If you can suck on a piece for several seconds, it'll make it easier to chew. But still, this jerky is going to give your jaw muscles a workout.
In terms of clean eating, as I said some pieces have a layer of oil on the surface and this picks up on my fingers and requires some licking off before touching anything else. Otherwise, it doesn't seem to drop much in terms of meat fragments.
I don't see any visible pieces of fat on this jerky, and didn't encounter any pieces of tendon or gristle. I didn't find any unchewable wads of connective tissue in my mouth either.
Butler's Smokehouse sells this habanero variety at a price of $8.00 for a 4 ounce package. I bought four packages, one each of Butler's four varieties, for a total of $32.00. They tacked on a shipping fee of $8.56, for grand total of $40.56. All in all, it works out to a per ounce price of $2.54, putting this into the expensive price range.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.54 per ounce price, it provides a weak value. I'm getting a moderate amount of snackability with this. Actually if I judged this purely on its flavor, it'd have more snackability. It's just that the tough chewing takes something away from that enjoyment, and makes me pause before reaching for more.
As a habanero flavored jerky, also at the $2.54 per ounce price, it's perhaps a better value, at "fair". I actually do get a fair amount of habanero chile flavor and burn. If I was specifically a habanero jerky lover, I wouldn't get a lot of habanero experience from this, and probably wouldn't buy it again considering it's expensive price range. It's probably best suited for jerky lovers who like a little bit of hot.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This habanero variety from Butler's Smokehouse actually has a good flavor. I'm getting enough of the habanero chile flavor and burn that I think it lives up to that billing, but also get a good flavor intensity from the salt, garlic, and a slight bit of smokiness. I'm not really getting much of natural meat flavors, however.
It's just that the tough chewing makes this a challenge to enjoy for general purpose snacking. It's tough enough that I find myself pausing before reaching for another piece. In fact, I've ended up going about 15-30 minutes of rest before eating another piece. That takes something away from this jerky's snackability.
But it'd be ok if you only planned to snack on a couple of pieces, instead of eating through an entire 4oz bag.
Try a light tasting, cream ale or honey blonde ale to pair with this.
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