Next in the series on Mark's Meat Co. is this Cajun Honey Beef Jerky. See my previous reviews of their Spicy Garlic and Lemongrass Teriyaki beef jerky.
Mark's Meat Co. launched earlier this year, being based out of Carmichael, CA, and is the creation of two friends, Mark and Chris. Mark had been making jerky for about six years, when he had Chris try some of it out. Chris was quite impressed, enough so that he encouraged Mark to launch a business. Now the two are business partners.
This "Cajun Honey" beef jerky is described by the company as "a deceiving combination of subtle sweetness with a gradual build and development of flavor from Nature's own sweetener to the bite of fiery peppercorns."
USDA Choice Top Round, Raw Honey, Dijon Mustard, Orange Juice, Cajun Seasoning, Peppercorns, Sea Salt.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a strong sweet, followed by a strong taste of thyme.
The chewing flavor starts with a bit of tanginess, and is followed by a slightly more intense spice blend with a noticeable black pepper bite, and a light natural meat flavor. Further on into the chewing, I feel a slight bit of peppery burn.
For being advertised as a "Cajun Honey" variety, it seems to hold up to that claim. It's very sweet for one, unlike the words "subtle sweetness" the company described this jerky with.
But as for "cajun", that's up for interpretation. Cajun seasonings seem to vary so greatly from one chef to another. I generally look at "cajun" as meaning something with a fair amount of heat, combined with a complex spice blend. This Cajun Honey Beef Jerky has a strong thyme and black pepper combination, and a light amount of heat. But more than that, this cajun seasoning has a fresh character to it that makes it hard to criticize.
Considering Mark's Meat Co. indicates on its website this jerky having a spice level of "4" with "5" being the most spiciest, I expected something more spicy. There's a fair amount of spice in terms of spice blend, but not very spicy in terms of heat.
I'd say the primary flavor that seems to represent this jerky the most is the strong sweet and the thyme. The black pepper comes in strong but doesn't seem to gain momentum until further into the chewing.
The natural meat flavors are there, but in light, almost faint, amounts.
The level of saltiness in this seems mild.
I reported a tanginess in the chewing, and it continues to be there after eating most of the pieces in this package. It seems to add a bit of life into this jerky and helps build some snackability.
As for the Dijon Mustard listed in the ingredients, it's hard to say if I can taste that. There's nothing in this that pops out at me as being easily recognized as dijon mustard. If it's in there, it's very subtle.
Overall, what you're going to taste in this jerky is a strong sweet, a well-noticed thyme flavor, a fair amount of black pepper, a bit of tanginess in the chew, and light touches of natural meat flavor.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky, with a sticky surface feel. The pieces have some flexibility, but will crack apart at the grains with some bending. Tearing pieces apart with my fingers seems easy to do, while chewing ranges from moderate to tough.
The chewing texture starts out feeling like stiff plastic, with a fair amount of chewing resistance. With a good deal of chewing and sucking, it finally chews down to a soft mass. At that point, it chews and feels like a piece of steak, comparable to one cooked well-done.
In this review sample, I don't find any bits or streaks of fat, and no gristle or tendon. I didn't encounter any unchewable wads of tissue, and very little stringiness. Overall, it's very lean.
In terms of clean eating, I'm getting a fair amount of stickiness on my fingertips, enough to require a licking and wiping on my jeans. I didn't find any meat fragments flying off as I tore pieces apart.
Mark's Meat Co. sells this Cajun Honey beef jerky from its website at a price of $9.00 for a 4oz package. If you bought four packages, shipping costs calculate out to $4.00 for a total of $40.00. That works out to a price of $2.50 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.50 price per ounce, it's a good value. I'm getting a lot of snackability from it's great overall taste, though the meat consistency is tough. At that price, it's more costly than what you'd pay for major brands of jerky at the grocery store, but it's a far better flavor, though a comparable meat consistency, it's still a good value.
As a Cajun Honey beef jerky, at the same $2.50 price per ounce, it's a decent value. I'm getting a thick sweet flavor, and I'm getting something that resembles cajun, though not very much heat, and a moderate spice complexity. But it has a fresh quality to it, where the seasonings are bursting with flavor.
I'm giving this a best rating.
This Cajun Honey beef jerky from Mark's Meat Co. offers a thick sweet flavor combined with a cajun combination of thyme and black pepper, with a light touch of heat. What's more is that I found the cajun seasonings to have fresh quality where the flavors burst with liveliness. Add to that a touch of tanginess in the chew, and this is another offering from Mark's Meat Co that gives me that "wow" factor right off the bat.
With the word "Cajun" in the name, you'd expect something hot, but this is not. It's really only mild-medium. I'd put it at a "2" on Mark's spice scale, instead of the "4" he assigned.
Unlike the company's Lemongrass Teriyaki and Spicy Garlic, this Cajun Honey beef jerky was rather tough. I'm sure it's nothing specific about this flavor, and is just this particular package. Considering the other two flavors I reviewed had more tender, easier chewing, I was willing to overlook the tough chew in this case.
If you like black peppered jerky, this Cajun Honey is perhaps what you'd get, because it gives you a good deal of that flavor, but tosses on a helping of thyme and a thick sweetness. You're still left with that black pepper aftertaste, just as with other brands of black peppered jerky.
As for my recommended beer pairing, I'd go with something lighter on flavor to let the spices come through, do a pale ale, like a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
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- Note: Mark's Meat Co. is now out of business.