Friday, January 8, 2010

Mingua Beef Jerky - Cajun Style

Mingua Beef JerkyNext in the series on Mingua Beef Jerky is this Cajun Style. See my previous reviews of their Mild and Hot varieties.

The Paris, KY-based brand got started in 1993 when Ronnie Mingua (pronounced Ming-Ghee), a tobacco farmer, was watching a television informercial on the Ronco food dehydrator, and decided he had to get one. It took about a year until he perfected a recipe, and started selling his 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. Instead of farming tobacco, Mingua has now shifted to beef jerky manufacturing and sells it to stores all across the eastern USA.

Mingua Beef Jerky is made without preservatives and no nitrites.

Ingredients

Beef, soy sauce, cajun spice, brown sugar, granulated garlic, liquid smoke.

Taste

The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky, salty flavor. The saltiness seems to become more defined as a soy sauce flavor with continued sucking. I can taste some spices in this, but it's more savory than spicy, maybe comparable to like seasoning salt.

As I start chewing, the soy sauce flavor becomes even more defined. There's a slight natural meat flavor in there too. The seasoning flavor continues to build, taking on a stronger onion and garlic flavor.

For being advertised as a "Cajun Style" beef jerky, it's hard to say one way or another if this tastes, or does not taste, cajun. As a caveat, I think the word "cajun" is too broad to define any specific flavor, other than just something spicy and/or hot.

But this particular jerky does have a bold flavor, mostly as a strong savory and salty flavor. I can pick up the flavor of onion and garlic, but I don't necessarily associate those two as being "spicy" flavors. I can see red pepper and some chile pepper seeds on these pieces, but I don't really taste them. There's nothing hot about this jerky at all, it's quite mild in that regards.

So whether I think this jerky lives up to its claim as being "cajun", I can't really tell you definitely because the word cajun is used so differently by so many people. It's not hot in any way, and not really "spicy". It's a bold flavor, mostly savory through a noticeable onion and garlic.

In terms of the most dominant flavor component, that seems to go to the soy sauce. Like with the Mild and Hot beef jerky varieties I reviewed for Mingua, it's the soy sauce flavor that I taste in this more than anything else. The cajun spice does add a noticeable taste interest with its onion and garlic, but the soy sauce is still the stronger flavor.

And with a strong soy sauce flavor, it's common to find a strong saltiness. And this jerky does have a strong saltiness.

I do taste a light bit of natural meat flavor. I think there's just enough in there to say that it makes a measurable impact on the overall flavor. But it's light enough to where it sits behind the soy sauce, salt, and cajun spice.

Overall, what you're going to taste in this jerky is a strong soy sauce flavor and strong saltiness. The cajun seasoning is mostly an onion and garlic flavor that enhances the soy sauce, and is not hot or spicy at all. It's a bold tasting jerky, highly salty, with a lot of savory flavor.

Meat Consistency

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. Some pieces are sliced thin, and others sliced very thin. The very thin pieces have a light crunchiness to them. All all are easy to tear apart with my fingers, and vary between easy to chew and somewhat easy.

The chewing texture with the thin-sliced pieces starts out feeling stiff, with a slight bit of chewing resistance, but easily chews down to a soft mass in about 10-15 seconds. The very thin-sliced pieces crunch and crumble down easily and chew down to a small mass quickly. At that point this jerky feels just like a piece of real meat, more close to a well-done cooked steak.

Some of these pieces contain visible streaks of fat, but overall still minimal. All of these pieces felt and chewed as if they were pure meat, with nothing chewy or unchewable. I didn't encounter any gristle, tendon, or anything stringy.

In terms of clean eating, handling these pieces left no oily residue on my fingertips, but just small amounts of spice. But tearing pieces apart caused light amounts of cajun seasoning and tiny meat fragments of fly off on my lap and desk.

beef jerky

beef jerky
Snack Value

Mingua Beef Jerky sells this Cajun Style 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 provides a fair value. I get an average amount of snackability, mostly for its easy eating, good chewing texture. I find the overall flavor to be satisfactory, but nothing beyond that. The $2.27 price per ounce is actually a little bit higher than what you'd pay for grocery store jerky, and I think this jerky is only slightly better.

As a Cajun Style beef jerky, at the same $2.27 price per ounce, it's a weak value. Even though the word "cajun" tends to vary greatly from one person to another, I still believe that anything cajun should incorporate a good deal of spiciness, and some heat. I'm not really getting either.

Rating

I'm giving this an average rating.

This Cajun Style variety from Mingua Beef Jerky provides a bold, savory flavor through a noticeable onion and garlic flavor, as well as the same strong soy sauce flavor I've found in other Mingua jerky products. And that strong soy sauce flavor generates a high amount of saltiness.

Albeit the term "cajun" can vary greatly as a culinary description, it's hard for me to say if this jerky lives up to that claim. However, it's not hot and not really spicy. It's more savory than anything else with a noticeable onion, garlic and soy sauce flavor. Personally, if I see something described as cajun, I want it to be hot and spicy. I'm not really getting that here.

And even with the same light natural meat flavor that Mingua seems to have in all of its jerky varieties, it's still mostly a strong soy sauce flavor with a strong saltiness. In that regards, I don't find much in this to put it over-and-above the lot of average-rated jerky brands I've had. But if you love thinly sliced soy sauce flavored jerky, perhaps you'll love the addition of onion and garlic in this Cajun Style variety.

For a recommended beer pairing, I'd go with something light and refreshing, like a cream ale or kolsch, to quench that saltiness.

Side Note: the nutrition facts label above shows a serving size of 1oz (28gm), which I think is in error. I think it's supposed to be 1/2oz (14gm), which is what Mingua's Mild, Hot, and Teriyaki varieties are listed as.

Rating: Average

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