Next up in the series on Mingua Beef Jerky is this Hot variety. See my previous review of their Mild Beef Jerky.
The company, based in Paris, KY, got started in 1993 when a tobacco farmed named Ronnie Mingua (pronounced Ming-Ghee), was watching a television informercial on the Ronco food dehydrator, and decided he had to get one. After trying out various recipes for a year, he settled on one and found himself selling jerky to folks all over the State of Kentucky.
Eventually he and his brother built a USDA approved facility and designed their own meat dehydrators, and expanded production. The Minguas shifted from tobacco farming to beef jerky manufacturing and are selling it to stores all across the eastern USA.
Mingua Beef Jerky is made without preservatives and no nitrites.
Beef, red pepper, soy sauce, brown sugar, liquid smoke.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light saltiness, followed by a light smokiness. I can taste a light bit of soy sauce, and I feel a spicy burn starting to build. There's a faint sweetness back there too.
The chewing flavor starts with a stronger saltiness, a more defined soy sauce flavor, and a light natural meat flavor. Meanwhile, the spicy burn builds up a little bit more.
For being advertised as a "Hot" beef jerky, there is indeed a spicy burn to this, but light. On my hot scale, I'd register this as a mild-medium. If you're used to eating hot foods, the burn adds a nice little touch, but if you're not used to it, you might find it a nuisance at worst.
And despite the liberal dosing of red pepper flakes easily seen on this jerky, I don't taste much of it at all, just a hint of it off the surface flavor.
Otherwise, the flavor that seems to be most noticeable is the soy sauce flavor, and it's associated salitiness. After eating the first piece, the salitness seems to be at a medium level, but after several pieces, it builds up to a high level and I seem to feel a salt-scorching.
The natural meat flavors are light overall, but I'm finding that it varies from piece to piece. The thicker pieces, having the more defined meat grains, tend to have a stronger flavor.
And some of the pieces have visible streaks of fat, which adds a fatty flavor to the meat, making it taste more "beefy".
Lastly, there's a just faint sweetness in the background which seems to create a little bit of body.
Overall, it's mostly the flavor of soy sauce you're going to taste here, with a high level of saltiness, a light amount of natural meat flavor, with a light bit of chile pepper burn.
These are slices of whole meat, cut slab-style into thin slices, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This a dry jerky, with a dry surface feel, though there's also a light oily feel on some. Some pieces are sliced very thin, and as a result chews with a soft, semi-moist feel. This jerky is very easy to tear apart, and seems easy to chew.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, with a slight bit of chewing resistance, but easily chews down to a soft mass in about 10-15 seconds. At that point it feels just like a piece of real meat, more close to a medium-well cooked steak.
Some of these pieces contain visible streaks and spots of fat, but overall still minimal. Some pieces don't contain anything unchewable and feel like they're pure meat. I didn't find much stringy sinews as I did with Mingua's Mild Beef Jerky, and I didn't encounter any tendon or gristle.
In terms of clean eating, handling these pieces leaves a thin oily residue on my fingertips, but still clean enough that I can type on my keyboard without getting the keys dirty. Tearing pieces apart drops some chile pepper flakes on my lap.
Mingua Beef Jerky sells this Hot variety from its website at a price of $6.99 for a 4oz package. If you buy four packages, the shipping cost works out to $8.30 (to Southern California), for a total of $36.26. That's effectively $2.27 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.27 price per ounce, it seems to present a fair value. I'm getting a decent amount of snackability due to a savory flavor, good meat consistency and good chewing texture, though it's still quite salty for my tastes. But compared to the mass-market brands you find at the grocery store, I think this jerky is slightly better, though I think the $2.27 price per ounce is pushing it.
As a Hot Beef Jerky, at the same $2.27 price per ounce, it's a weak value. I don't really find this jerky to be "hot", only mild-medium at best, and not really any chile pepper flavor at all. I seem to think that Oberto's Habanero Beef Jerky is about the same level of hot, for a cheaper price, if heat is all you're interested in.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Hot variety from Mingua Beef Jerky provided just enough savory flavor in an easy-to-eat meat consistency, as well as a good overall chewing texture, that it kept me reaching for more, and thus provided a decent amount of snackability.
Flavorwise, it seems very much like Mingua's Mild Beef Jerky, but with added red pepper flakes. Except the pepper flakes don't really add any significant flavor, and only a light bit of heat. Otherwise, I only really taste soy sauce and a light natural meat flavor. I'm looking for jerky with more flavor complexity, or something with a stronger, smokier, meat flavor.
I also found myself having to douse the salt-scorching with a swig of water after every bite. Lastly, I didn't feel this jerky quite lives up to its advertised billing as "Hot". It's only mild-medium at best, though I tend to have a higher tolerance for hot foods. On the other hand, only people like me will buy a jerky that has the word "Hot" on the package, so why not make it hot?
For my recommended beer pairing, I'd try something more refreshing, like a cream ale.
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