Battling Bulls is a brand of Grande Premium Elk Meats, based out of Del Norte, CO. They're also known by their website, "ElkUSA.com".
I bought these packages of Pepper Planks from "Buck Thorntons' World Of Jerky", a jerky shop in Sedona, AZ while riding my motorcycle through there. Buck's daughter happened to be there, and she told me that these Pepper Planks were ranked by Maxim Magazine as one of the top ten jerkies of all time.
Seeing that my reputation as a jerky reviewer had now been called upon, I had to buy these and see if the folks at Maxim know their jerky or not. I told her about this blog I write, and she offered me a 10% discount if I mentioned the shop, so there you go.
For the record, Battling Bull's Elk Jerky actually comes from Krehbiels Meat Market & Deli in McPherson, KS. To my knowledge, they're just the meat processor, and not associated with Grande Premium Elk Meats.
Elk meat, water, brown sugar, soy sauce, salt, spices, garlic, worcestershire powder, black pepper.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a black pepper flavor, and a faint sweet. Sucking on a piece some saltiness comes through.
The chewing flavor starts with a light natural meat flavor, and a sharper black pepper flavor.
Well, for being advertised as "Pepper Planks", this elk jerky certainly has a strong black pepper flavor, and is well justified the liberal spread of pepper visible on these strips.
In fact, I'd say the black pepper is what largely defines the overall flavor of this jerky. Just eating one little strip leaves a strong black pepper aftertaste in the back of my mouth.
The natural elk meat flavor comes through well in the chewing, but it's not a strong flavor. Yet, it's still easily noticeable and enjoyable. I think it would be more noticeable if not for the overwhelming black pepper flavor. In fact, I think the pepper scorches my mouth enough that it actually numbs the taste buds and prevents me from tasting more of the meat.
There's a faint touch of sweet that I can pick up.
The level of saltiness in this seems light to moderate.
I don't really taste the soy sauce or worcestershire ingredients.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this is an overwhelming black pepper flavor, with a fair amount of natural meat flavor, and a light to moderate saltiness.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into strips of about 2 to 4 inches in length, and sliced thick.
This is a semi-moist jerky with a dry surface feel. Most of the strips have a lot of flexibility without cracking apart. Overall it's easy to bite off chunks, and easy to chew.
The chewing texture starts out feeling soft and pliable with very little chewing resistance. Just a light degree of chewing causes it to break down and it doesn't take long to render it into a soft mass. At that point, it has a steak-like texture, but a little on the soft/mushy side.
These strips appear to be very lean, I don't see any bits of fat, and no tendon or gristle. I don't find any stringiness, and didn't encounter any unchewable wads of tissue. It's all pure meat.
In terms of clean eating, my fingertips don't pick up any residue, but I do get a fair amount of black pepper bits falling off on my lap or desk as I bite off chunks.
A 2oz package of these Pepper Planks sells for $7.99 at Buck Thornton's World of Jerky in Sedona, AZ. That works out to a price of $4.00 per ounce. You can also buy this online directly from Grande Premium Elk Meats for $5.95 in the same 2oz package, but with a two package minimum. They'll tack on $2.00 for shipping, which works out to $3.48 per ounce.
So for general jerky snacking purposes, going with the $3.48 per ounce price, it's a weak value. Not taking into consideration that this is elk meat, and just considering general jerky snacking, that's a very expensive price for jerky, and yet I'm only getting an average amount of snackability due to a satisfactory flavor, though excellent meat consistency and chewing texture.
But as a black peppered elk jerky, at the same $3.48 per ounce price, it's a fair value at best. Albeit elk meat is going to be more expensive than beef, and even though I do get a noticeable and enjoyable elk meat flavor, the black pepper is very overwhelming in my opinion. Paying that much money for jerky, I want more focus on the elk meat flavor.
I'm giving this an average rating.
These Pepper Planks from Battling Bulls Elk Jerky give off a strong black pepper flavor that seemingly takes over my palate. They do have a noticeable and enjoyable elk meat flavor, but I think the heavy black pepper makes it difficult to enjoy. I was getting so much pepper that my tongue was getting numb.
I would be nice if I could get more smokiness in this. I don't know if this jerky was smoked or not, at least I couldn't taste it. Otherwise, it has an excellent semi-moist meat consistency, being easy to eat and chew, and has a nice steak-like chewing texture. But tone down the pepper, add more smokiness, and I think this jerky is a winner.
As for Maxim Magazine reportedly naming this jerky as among the top ten of all time, from what I can tell that remains a rumor in my book. If they did indeed rank this as such, all I can say is that they probably didn't evaluate enough brands.
For my recommended beer pairing, go with something malty and lighter on the hops, try an imperial Russian stout, like North Coast's Old Rasputin, or Alesmith's Speedway Stout.
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