Mountain Ranch Jerky is a brand of Mountain Ranch Smokehouse located in Fruitland, UT.
The company is mostly known for its jerky products, but also smokes hams and turkeys, and makes meat sticks too. They also have a restaurant where you can get yourself a burger or steak.
Mountain Ranch claims that all their jerky is cut by hand, and smoked over real mesquite wood. They make jerky in their own USDA inspected facility.
This Original beef jerky is just one of six flavors that Mountain Ranch Smokehouse offers, and I'll be reviewing each one throughout this month.
Beef, salt, hydrolyzed corn, soy/wheat gluten protein, onion/garlic powder, spice, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a smoky flavor, followed by a light saltiness.
The chewing flavor starts with a well-defined natural meat flavor, along with a stronger saltiness.
Mountain Ranch Smokehouse describes this Original beef jerky as,
"It has a distinct flavor compared to other originals on the market and is very mild (just like you would expect an original to be)."
And I think it definitely is mild in that there's no spiciness or anything hot. But as far as having a "distinct flavor compared to other originals on the market", well that might be if you haven't had many other brands to compare. But I've reviewed over 180 brands at this point, and the flavor of this jerky is comparable to several others I've had, but all gourmet brands. It definitely is more distinct from the national brands, however.
The flavor that seems to dominate my palate is that natural meat flavor. As soon as I start chewing, it's easily noticeable and enjoyable. It has a steak-like flavor, comparable to one cooked well-done. And there's some smokiness mixed into that meat flavor, along with a good deal of saltiness.
The saltiness seems to be at a high level, but still within my tolerance.
I can also taste some faint notes of onion & garlic, as documented in the ingredients list. It's just enough to color that saltiness.
Overall, this is a mild flavored jerky with a strong natural meat flavor, a noticeable smokiness, and a high level of saltiness.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced medium to thick, and in medium sized slabs.
This is a dry jerky, but having an oily surface feel, perhaps due to the vacuum packaging drawing the oils up the surface. The pieces have a bit of flexibility, but easily crack apart with little bending. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers is easy to do, and chewing seems moderately easy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, but can be easily bent and chewed down. It takes about 15 seconds before it's rendered into a soft mass. At that point, it feels just like chewing a steak, cooked well-done, but not quite as dry.
This jerky appears to be very lean in that I don't see any bits of fat. I didn't encounter any gristle or tender, or wind up with any unchewable wads of tissue, but I do feel a fair amount of stringiness.
As for clean eating, handling this jerky leaves some sticky oils on my fingertips, enough that I have to lick and wipe them off before touching my keyboard. Otherwise, tearing pieces apart doesn't create any tiny bits of meat flying off.
Mountain Ranch Smokehouse sells this Original beef jerky from its website at a price of $5.99 for a 3.5oz package. I bought six packages, each a different variety, with $2.99 shipping, which brings a total of $38.93. That works out to a price of $1.85 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.85 per ounce price, this provides an excellent value. I'm getting a lot of snackability from that smoky natural meat flavor, its good meat consistency, and good chewing texture. The $1.85 price per ounce is the same price you'd pay for the national brands at the grocery store, but you'll get far better taste and quality with this.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Original beef jerky from Mountain Ranch Smokehouse offers a good smoky, natural meat flavor that tastes just like a steak cooked well-done. There's also a high level of saltiness, but not too terribly high, with just a smidgeon of onion & garlic noticeable.
It even has an excellent overall meat consistency for being a dry, slab style jerky. The thickness of these pieces range from medium to thick, yet still offer the easy-to-eat chewiness most folks want from jerky. And the chewing texture feels just like eating a real steak.
All that's kept me from assigning the higher "best" rating is that I reserve that rating for jerky that packs a "wow factor", some kind of quality that opens my eyes in amazement. Compared the other gourmet brands of Original beef jerky, this is pretty good, but still lacks the creativity and complexity that I seek from gourmet brands.
But as a simple, mild beef jerky, this seems excellent.
As for my recommended beer pairing, I think something sweet or fruity would work well, due to this jerky being sugar-free, like a cherry lambic, or apricot flavored pale ale.
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