Jerk Nation is a new beef jerky brand launching just last month. It's owned by Adams Gourmet, Inc. based out of Parkland, FL.
It's the first to incorporate the "shake & season" concept, where the beef jerky comes with a seasoning packet. You tear open the packet, pour the seasoning into the bag, seal it, and shake. The result is a seasoned beef jerky. The advantage is that you can control how much seasoning to put on, or perhaps enhance it with your own kitchen seasonings.
The jerky is manufactured by Magnolia Provision based out of Knoxville, TN, who makes the Smoky Mountain brand. I've reviewed a couple of their flavors on this site, and awarded one of them with a five-star rating, but that was based on their own unique blend of flavorings.
Jerk Nation offers four flavors which I'll be reviewing separately over the next few weeks. Adam Ramati, who created Jerk Nation, says he's working on more flavors right now.
Beef Jerky: beef, soy sauce, worcestershire sauce, teriyaki, onion powder, garlic powder, dark brown sugar, all natural smoke flavor.
Seasoning: crushed red pepper, dry mustard, kosher salt, dark brown sugar, paprika, chili powder, cajun seasoning, ground cumin, black pepper, granulated garlic, cayenne pepper.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a seasoning flavor, with the most notable flavors, I think, cumin and chili powder. Sucking on the piece a bit more, I get a garlic flavor, and light bit of saltiness. There's also a light spicy heat in there too.
The chewing flavor starts with a bit more garlic, a light worcestershire flavor, and a light natural meat flavor.
Just for the record, I poured the full contents of the seasoning packet into the bag, because I wasn't sure how much to pour in. I probably should have poured half, and then decide if I needed to pour the rest.
For being dubbed "Original Spicy", I think it definitely is spicy, in that it has a heavy spiciness, but also a light amount of heat. The chili powder and cumin seems to be the most identifiable in the list of seasoning ingredients. There's a well-noticed garlic flavor too, but I'm not sure if that's from the meat or the seasoning. I probably should have saved a piece unseasoned, just to compare.
As for the spicy heat, it probably ranks a "mild-medium" on my hot scale. But then again, I poured the full contents of the packet into this bag. I imagine you can pour about half the packet instead, and get a lighter degree of seasoning.
The natural meat flavors in this are noticeable, but are light. Depending on how much seasoning you use, that too will vary. But even at full seasoning, it's still noticeable. I can also pick up a light bit of the smoke flavoring too.
The level of saltiness in this seems moderate, though the spiciness might make it seem heavier than it really is.
There's also a faint bit of sweet in this, just enough to add give the overall flavor some body.
Overall, what you're going to taste the most in this jerky is the combination of chili powder and cumin immediately off the surface. As you start chewing, you'll get a well-noticed garlic flavor, a light natural meat flavor with a touch of worcestershire. You'll get a light bit of heat depending on how much seasoning you pour in.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced thin to medium, in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky, with a semi-moist surface feel. It has a soft, flexible feel, and bends easily without much cracking. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers seems easy enough, and chewing seems easy to moderate.
The chewing texture starts out feeling soft and pliable. It's chewy, but I think at the right amount for beef jerky. It seems to chew down to a soft mass in about 15-20 seconds. At that point, it feels just like a piece of steak, perhaps cooked medium or well-done, depending on the pieces.
Several pieces have some small bits of fat, but overall this jerky seems pretty lean. A couple of the larger pieces have a thin line of gristle running through middle, but in chewing these I didn't feel any gristle. However, in most of the pieces I felt a fair amount of stringiness, and several pieces resulted in some unchewable wads of tissues.
Note in the "before seasoning" photo below some pieces have white spots on them, this appears to be oil that cooled and solidified.
In terms of clean eating, I get a good deal of seasoning stuck to my fingers, requiring a licking or wiping before touching my keyboard. I also get some seasoning flying off as I tear these pieces.
Jerk Nation sells this Original Spicy beef jerky from its website at a price of $6.99 for a 4oz package. If you bought 8 packages, the total price comes to $65.42, including $9.50 shipping to Southern California. That works out to a price of $2.04 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.04 price per ounce, I think it offers a great value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability from this, for its good overall flavor, good meat consistency and chewing texture. That $2.04 price per ounce is close to what you'll pay at the grocery store for a Jack Link's or an Oberto jerky, but you'll get better flavor and meat consistency with this.
As a spicy variety of beef jerky, at the same $2.04 price per ounce, it's a good value. I'm getting a lot of spiciness, both in terms of spices that I can taste, and in a light bit of spicy heat.
I'm giving this a best rating.
This Original Spicy variety from Jerk Nation offers a great combination of seasoning flavor and meat consistency that together seems to create a lot of snackability for me. I love a jerky that just "pops" in my mouth for lack of a better word, and that's what I got with an initial surge of chili powder and cumin. And as I got into the chewing, I got a second surge of garlic, followed by a trio of natural meat flavors, smoke flavor, and worcestershire.
What seems to help is that I could control how much seasoning to put on this, and in this case I dumped the full seasoning packet in. I love jerky that packs in a lot of flavor, and this allowed me to do that.
And I also like jerky with a strong flavor complexity, and I got that too. I could taste the chili powder, the cumin, the garlic, along with a light natural meat flavor, with a touch of smokiness, and a bit of worcestershire. It even gave me some heat as well.
I imagine I could also personalize this with some seasonings from my own spice rack if I wanted to. Of course, that's not to say I can't already do this with other jerky brands. The "shake & season" concept that Jerk Nation is pushing could obviously be done with any brand, except Jerk Nation meat has a touch of oil on the surface that helps make the seasoning stick.
For my recommended beer pairing, I'd go with lighter colored ale, like an amber ale or cream ale, to help balance the stronger jerky flavor.
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