Next in the series on McDonald's Meats are these Cajun Smokey Dried Beef Strips. See my previous reviews of their Original Beef Jerky, and Original Smokey Dried Beef Strips.
McDonald's Meats is a full service butcher shop in Clear Lake, MN, in operation since 1914. It was actually in operation before then, but under a different name. The business was handed down from father to son to grandson. The company offers 22 varieties of jerky, smoked over real wood, and made in their own USDA inspected facility.
I found their beef strips tend to be better than their beef jerky in that they seem to have a stronger, and even smokier meat flavor. It's also easier to eat in that you just bite off a chunk, instead of ripping a slab apart.
Beef, seasoning mix (salt, sugar, spices, monosodium glutamate, onion, garlic, spice extractives, sodium erythorbate), water, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a salty flavor and a light smokiness. A light sweet is noticeable. There's some spices in there, primarily garlic, and a light bit of pepper.
The chewing flavor starts with a smokey, natural meat flavor, followed by an increased saltiness. I can pick up some additional spices, as well as a light bit of heat.
For being sold as a Cajun variety, it seems to hold up to that description. Cajun is one of those flavors that seem to vary greatly from one person to another. For me, I tend to think of cajun cuisine as being hot and spicy, meaning you get a lot of heat, and a rich blend of spices.
In this case, the amount of heat is low. I'd rank this as "mild-medium" on my hot scale, others might see it as "medium". As for the richness of spices, it seems to be decent. I can taste garlic, black pepper, and some other kind of spice that I can't quite place. It's almost like oregano or basil.
Otherwise, the flavor that seems to be most noticeable is the smokey, natural meat flavor. It sits in the center of my palate, and it's the same flavor I reported in the Original Smokey Dried Beef Strips, where the smokiness is easily noticed.
The level of saltiness in this seems a little higher than the Original variety, as evidenced by salt grains visible on the surface.
There's also a slight bit of sweet noticeable inside the meat.
Overall, what you're going to taste in this is a strong smokey natural meat flavor, surrounded by a strong cajun seasoning with a light bit of heat, and a medium-high degree of saltiness.
These are slices of whole meat, cut into strips in lengths ranging from 3 to 10 inches, and in thick widths.
These are moist strips of beef, with a wet surface feel. They are very flexible, bending like rubber without cracking apart. The strips are cut with the grain, hence you're biting against the grain when trying to bite off a chunk. And biting off chunks varies from easy to labored. Chewing seems easy to moderate.
The chewing texture starts off with a soft rubbery feel. Some light chewing will cause it down break down and but still has a jerky-like chewiness to it. It seems to chew down to a soft-mass fairly easily and quickly enough. At that point, it chews and feels like a real piece of steak, comparable to one cooked medium-rare.
I can see some small flecks of fat on some strips, but nothing in large amounts. I don't really see any tendon or gristle, and I don't feel any unchewable wads of tissue in my mouth. But I do feel a fair amount of stringiness, which may just be something that comes with the territory when you're dealing with thick cut strips like these.
In terms of clean eating, there's a lot of moisture and seasoning on these strips which picks up on my finger tips, requiring a licking and wiping. But no bits of meat or seasoning flying off as I take bites.
McDonald's Meats sells these Cajun Smokey Dried Beef Strips from its website at a price of $19.99 for a 16oz package. I bought three packages, each a different variety. Shipping was only $3.00. That's a total of $62.97, which works out to a price of $1.31 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.31 price per ounce, it presents an excellent value. I get a lot of snackability from its great overall flavor, excellent meat consistency and chewing texture. At $1.31 per ounce, it's a lot cheaper than buying an Oberto or Jack Link's from a grocery store, but this by far a superior product.
As a Cajun variety of beef jerky, it's also an excellent value. Considering the cheaper price compared to national brands, it seems to provide a good deal of cajun flavor. I only get a light bit of heat, though I do get a fairly rich blend of spices. I think if you were to find a cajun beef jerky from a national brand, this would be comparable. But the lower price is what makes it such a good value.
I'm giving this a best rating.
These Cajun Smokey Dried Beef Strips from McDonald's Meats combine a great tasting, smokey natural meat flavor with an overall good cajun seasoning. The smokey natural meat flavor is the star of the show in these strips, while the cajun seasoning does well enough in a supporting role.
And the meat consistency of these strips are impressive, providing a thick, moist, meaty chew that seems to prepare a meat-snacker like me with lots of mouth-watering anticipation. And it delivers too, with each bite resulting in pure meat joy, and chewing like real meat too.
If you read my review of McDonald's Meats Original beef strips, I was close to giving that a "best" rating, but pulled back because it didn't have enough flavor complexity to get beyond a one-dimensional taste. But this cajun variety has the extra push it needs to make it exceptional.
My recommended beer pairing on this, I'd stick with the IPA, go with Russian River Brewing's "Pliny the Elder", its floral aroma and fruity notes will pair well with this jerky's smoky meat and spiciness.
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