Last August I wrote a review for Insane Jerky's Original beef jerky, which I had given a "Dog Treats" rating, mostly because it was tough, and lacked flavor. Read the original review.
But last week the company sent me packages of their new beef jerky, explaining that they've since hired a different meat processor, and modified the recipe making it more flavorful and moist. In addition to this Original variety, I have their Jamaican, Spicy, and Sweet & Spicy varieties to review later.
Insane Jerky specializes in selling "Halal Beef Jerky". Halal is the equivalent of kosher for muslims. Animals must be free of antibiotics and growth hormones. They are slaughtered by hand, severing the jugular vein, leaving the spinal column intact, while draining out as much blood as possible. Because of this, the meat tends to taste different than other beef.
Zabihah/Halal beef, soy sauce, sugar, smoke flavor, spices, garlic powder.
The first thing I taste from the surface is a smoky flavor mixed with a meat flavor. With some sucking I can get a light salty flavor. There's also a faint oily flavor.
The chewing flavor starts with a stronger saltiness that becomes more defined as a soy sauce flavor. I'm also getting a fair amount of natural meat flavors. I can pick up a light bit of garlic.
This new Original recipe from Insane Jerky is clearly different than their previous product, having far more flavor. As as for being labeled as "Original", it has a mild, simple flavor overall.
I'd say the primary flavor I'm getting out of this is the soy sauce flavor, in that it's the flavor that seems to get the most attention from me. The saltiness in this seems moderate after having eaten several pieces.
But the smoky meat flavor is significant as well, being easily identified. The smokiness is more evident in the first piece I put into my mouth, afterwards my taste-buds adjust and I tend to notice only the meat flavor. The meat flavor also has a light oily flavor.
As for Halal beef having a different taste than regular beef, I can't really tell from just eating this jerky. Since I'm not a muslim and I don't eat much halal certified beef, perhaps I'd have to taste a halal steak next to a regular steak to notice anything.
Here and there, I can pick up traces of spice, mostly in the form of black pepper, and I can identify a light garlic flavor back there.
Overall, for being dubbed an Original variety of beef jerky, it has a mild flavor, mostly as a soy sauce flavor, and a smoky meat flavor, with a moderate saltiness.
These are slices of whole meat, cut to a medium thickness, and in small pieces.
This is a semi-moist jerky, with a light oily surface feel. Pieces are easy to tear apart with my fingers, and chewing seems easy.
The chewing texture starts out with a rubber-like feel, but with some light chewing it easily breaks down into something meaty. It chews down to a soft mass in about 15 seconds. At that point, it has mostly a steak-like texture, though a slight bit of crumbliness.
For the most part, this jerky appears to be all meat, with just a few pieces having small flecks of fat. I did not see any tendon or gristle, and I did not encounter anything unchewable, or anything stringy.
In terms of clean eating, my fingers pick up a thin layer of oil. I find myself wiping them on my jeans before touching my keyboard. But there are no bits of meat or seasoning flying off these pieces.
Insane Jerky sells this Original beef jerky from its website at a price of $4.49 per 2oz package. If you bought eight packages (1 pound), the shipping costs comes out to $3.94 if shipping to Southern California. That works out to a total of $39.86, or a price of $2.49 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.49 price per ounce, this jerky seems to provide a decent value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability from its overall pleasing flavor, and easy-to-eat consistency and decent chewing texture. That price is still higher than what you'd pay for grocery store jerky, but I think you're getting a better jerky.
As for being a Halal beef jerky, at the $2.49 price per ounce, it's an excellent value, mostly because I don't think anyone else sells Halal beef jerky, and considering how much extra work goes into getting halal certification, it really isn't anymore costly than other beef jerky.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Original beef jerky from Insane Jerky is clearly much more improved than their previous product in that it has more flavor and is easier to chew. The flavor is marked primarily by a soy sauce flavor combined with a smoky natural meat flavor, and just touches of spice that I can identify here and there.
The meat consistency is more soft and more moist than before, making it easier to tear apart and chew. For me, it increases the snackability than before, I don't have to fight the jerky. There's also a light coating of oil on the surface, which adds a bit of flavor, giving it a more "beefy" flavor.
In comparison to all the other gourmet jerky brands I've had, this Original variety still seems to fall into the middle of the pack, having a simple taste of soy sauce and smoky meat flavor. But because it at least offers a smoky meat flavor, I considered a higher rating. However, the overall impression is that this is still pretty much a "plain" jerky. Nonetheless, congratulations to Insane Jerky for improving their meat and recipe into something all jerky lovers can appreciate.
As for my recommended beer pairing, the smokiness, and simple flavor of this jerky will go really well with something hoppy, like an IPA or Red Ale.
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