Next up in the series on Prasek's Hillje Smokehouse is this Red Hots variety of beef jerky. See my previous review of their Jalapeno beef jerky.
Prasek's Hillje Smokehouse is a smokehouse, bakery, deli, and country store located in El Campo, Texas. It originally started out as Hillje Grocery, a small town grocery store. In 1974, it was purchased by Mike and Betty Jo Prasek, and was renamed to its current name. Their first product was sausage, but eventually they expanded to beef jerky, and now jerky is their big seller.
I actually bought this jerky from a website called "The Cajun Turkey Company", thinking I was getting Cajun's brand. But when I recieved it in the mail, I found Prasek's jerky; they never explained they were a reseller of Prasek's.
Beef, crushed red pepper, smoke flavoring, water, salt, brown sugar, sodium acetate, sodium erythorbate, flavorings, sodium nitrite, monosodium glutamate.
The first thing I taste on the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, a faint sweetness, and a light chile pepper burn starting to build. With some sucking, I get some saltiness.
The chewing flavor starts with a little bit stronger smokiness, and a good deal of natural meat flavors. There's a stronger saltiness, while the chile pepper burn continues to build.
For being dubbed "Red Hots", I supposed the word "red" is justified, since this beef jerky, "smoked dried beef" as Prasek's calls it, has a reddish tone from all the chile pepper flakes. But as for being "hot", I'm not sure. It does indeed have a burn, but it probably ranks as "medium" on my hot scale. Maybe for people with lesser tolerable tongues, it'll be hot.
Considering there's a lot of chile pepper flakes on this, I don't really detect a lot of the chile pepper flavor. While I do like chile peppers, what I really like is the flavor. In this jerky, I taste only a light amount of flavor.
Otherwise, I think the primary flavor of this jerky is the smoky natural meat flavor. It has a great taste, with a significant salty flavor. I think the saltiness is actually at a moderate intensity, but the chile pepper burn is making it seem higher than it really is.
Overall, it's actually a simple tasting jerky, but a good tasting one, with the smoky natural meat flavor at the center, a decent amount of saltiness, and fair amount of chile pepper burn. But just a tad amount of chile pepper flavor.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into strips of ranging from 2 to 8 inches in length, and about 1/4 to 1/2 inches thick.
This is a semi-moist jerky inside, but feeling quite moist on the surface. The strips are sliced with the grain, giving it a lot of flexibility. Biting off chunks varies from easy to tough. Some strips can take some work to bite off, having enough stringiness that I had to gnaw and twist to get a chunk to bite off. Chewing seems easier for the most part.
The chewing texture starts out feeling moist and soft, with only a tad amount of chewing resistance. They seem to break down easily enough, and chew down to a soft mass rather quickly. At that point, they feel exactly like eating a piece of steak, with the thicker pieces comparable to one cooked medium, and the narrow pieces more like well.
I found only one strip with some significant streaks of fat, the rest seemed to be rather lean. I also encountered some stringiness in some strips, but most strips left behind some smaller wads of unchewable tissues in my mouth.
As for clean eating, there's enough moisture on the surface that every handling leaves some moisture on my fingers, along with a fair amount of chile pepper flakes.
Prasek's Hillje Smokehouse sells this Jalapeno beef jerky from their website at a price of $24.95 for a 1 pound package. Add to that shipping costs of $6.75, and it comes to a total of $31.70. That works out to a price of $1.98 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.98 price per ounce, this seems to provide a good value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability from this for its good overall flavor, decent meat consistency and good chewing texture. That $1.98 price per ounce is a little bit higher than the mass-market brands found in the grocery stores, but offers far better flavor and consistency.
As a "Red Hot" beef jerky, at the same $1.98 price per ounce, it's seem to provide a decent value. I don't personally see this as "hot", more like "medium", but then again the next person may see it differently. However, I don't find much chile pepper flavor, which I'd expect in a beef jerky that uses a lot of chile pepper.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Red Hot variety of beef jerky from Prasek's Hillje Smokehouse features a great tasting natural meat flavor with a well-noticed smokiness, and then further enhanced with a medium-level chile pepper heat, and just a light touch of chile pepper flavor. There's a well-noticed saltiness to this too.
I debated assigning this a best rating just for that great tasting meat flavor, but I kept noticing that most chunks of meat I bit off of these strips yielded some unchewable wads of tissue, even though the meat itself had a soft, moist, and very steak-like chewing texture. Had this beef jerky offered more chile pepper flavor, I could have easily overlooked the unchewable wads.
But overall, I was quite pleased with this jerky, and found myself wanting to eat more and more.
For a good beer pairing with this, I'm really favoring a red ale.
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