Yesterday I received a package from Sograte Beef Jerky containing a bag of their Original beef jerky and a bag of their Black Pepper beef jerky.
Cary Franklin, who runs Sograte, revised the recipe for his beef jerky, saying he made it more moist, and cut back on the saltiness, after reading the reviews I did last Summer for several of his varieties, as well as comments posted on those reviews.
Read my previous review here.
In my previous review of the Original variety, I gave it a four-star rating (Good) on the strength of its smoky natural meat flavor. But I had shyed away from the five-star rating due to a high saltiness, and a somewhat tough chew.
Sograte Beef Jerky is based in Lubbock, TX, and has been around since 2005.
Top round beef, salt, sugar, paprika, spices, monosodium glutamate, garlic.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is an easily noticeable smoky flavor, followed quickly by a moderate salty flavor, and a fair amount of seasoning flavor. Sucking further on the flavors, I can find some black pepper, and a touch of sweet.
The chewing flavor starts with a stronger smokiness, along with a well noticed natural meat flavor. The seasoning is stronger, and the black pepper has a bit more definition.
In comparison to Sograte's previous recipe, specifically with regards to the level of saltiness, this new recipe still seems to taste salty. I wish I had a bag of the old recipe to compare it with. But if I evaluate this new recipe just for what it is, I still want to say that it has a high saltiness.
It could also be the seasonings attacking my taste buds, making it feel like it's more salty. In fact, after re-reading my previous review, I had written that the old recipe had a light spiciness. However, in this new recipe the seasonings are much more alive. It's not necessarily "hot", just a much more spicy and savory.
In fact, the moment I put a piece into my mouth, I can pick up a fair amount of those seasonings, whereas in the old recipe it took awhile for that seasoning to manifest itself.
Overall, this beef jerky still has the same smoky natural meat flavor that I liked so much in the old recipe. Even with the stronger seasoning flavor, that smokiness and that meat flavor still seems to be what I notice the most. In fact, I can smell the smokiness in these pieces.
I'd have to say that in terms of flavor, this beef jerky is improved by a stronger seasoning flavor. The saltiness still feels high, though it could also be due to the stronger seasoning making it seem more salty.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, but in slightly smaller pieces as before.
It definitely seems to be more soft and more moist than before. This new recipe is semi-moist, and feels semi-moist, whereas the old recipe was dry. These pieces are also chewy, whereas the previous recipe it had some crunchiness due to being a little bit brittle. It now seems to have more of a classic jerky feel and chew.
Most pieces seem easy to moderate as far as ease-of-chewing goes. A couple of pieces seemed about as tough as the previous recipe. Overall, I believe it actually is improved than before.
The chewing texture, once chewed down to a soft mass, still feels very much like a real steak, and still comparable to one cooked well-done.
And in this review sample, I see several pieces with streaks or chunks of fat, whereas in the previous review, I didn't find any fat. I don't know if it was just that particular sample, or if Sograte is using a different cut of meat, or a different meat supplier. But overall, I'm still not finding much of anything unchewable or stringy.
In terms of clean eating, it's about the same as before, with some seasoning sticking to my fingers, as well as a light bit of oil, requiring some wiping before touching my keyboard.
Sograte sells this Original Beef Jerky from its website at a price of $5.00 for a single 3oz package, or $28.00 for six packages, which is the same as before. Assuming the shipping fees is still $4.95 flat rate, it would end up totalling $32.95 if you bought six packages. That works out to a per ounce price of $1.83.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.83 price per ounce, it's an excellent value. That's about the same as what you'll pay for a national-branded jerky at the grocery store, but you'll get much better flavor and a much better chewing texture, which creates a lot of snackability. I had previously called it a "good value" because the tougher chew, but that tougher chew seems to have eased up.
I'm giving this new recipe a best rating.
This Original variety from Sograte Beef Jerky is definitely improved from before, mostly through a softer, more moist meat consistency, and an increased seasoning flavor. This jerky now has a flavor that hits you right away as soon as you put a piece into your mouth. The aroma alone coming off this jerky is enough to prepare you for something good.
As far as the saltiness being lower than before, it's hard for me to say. It could very well be that Sograte is using less salt, but it still seems to have a high saltiness, particular after eating several pieces one after the other. But that could also be due to the increased seasoning. Even though Sograte didn't say anything about the seasoning being increased, the more moist meat consistency may have caused the seasoning to marinate.
But overall, this Original Beef Jerky has a great smoky natural meat flavor, just as it did before, and one that tastes like real smoke, not liquid smoke. With the revised recipe, you'll get more of the seasoning flavor and a more soft, more moist, though a little more chewy, meat consistency.
As for my recommended beer pairing, I'm still sticking with something light and refreshing, like a cream ale or kolsch, particularly to quench the saltiness.
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