Smoke-N-Jerk is a brand of Smoke-N-Jerk Meats based in Richardson, TX. It's one of the newest brands of jerky to hit the market, run by David Quarles who with a friend found themselves in a passion over cooking meat.
They cooked meats in their backyards and on camping trips and just got at it after awhile. They hated their day jobs enough that they started Smoke-N-Jerk and took up the pledge to fight "crimes against meat", particularly over cooked, dry flavorless meat, or meat heavily covered up with flavoring that you can't taste the true flavor of meat.
They run a website where they sell jerky as well as smoked pork ribs, smoked chicken and turkey, and beef brisket.
Beef, water, soy sauce, spices
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a strong smokiness. Seconds later I get some charred flavor, and then with some sucking I can pick up a saltiness, and slight spiciness.
The chewing flavor starts with a natural meat flavor, and then an increased saltiness, followed by a bit more spiciness.
For being dubbed "Original Black Pepper", it's difficult for me to identify the black pepper. But I do taste bits of it back there. I think the heavy smokiness masks much of that flavor out. Perhaps the black pepper and the heavy smoky and charred flavor, all having an acrid nature, tends to mimic each other.
Otherwise, the flavor that really stands out above the others is the smoky and charred flavor. Just opening the package reveals a strong smoky aroma, and then I bite off a piece and find it justified on my palate.
The natural meat flavors are easily noticeable in the chewing. When mixed together with the strong smokiness and light charring, it has the flavor of barbecued beef ribs, particularly the outer layers of meat where they get more cooked and charred.
I also reported a spiciness above and it seems to gain strength just a bit more as I continue to eat more. It renders a light amount of burn, and on my personal hot scale I probably rate it as a "mild medium". Some of you might see it heavier at around "medium".
The level of saltiness in this seems moderate to high, but that could also be exacerbated by the spiciness.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this is a strong smokiness and charred flavor, with the natural meat flavors playing second-fiddle. There's a fair amount of saltiness and a light spiciness.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced thick, and in strips of about 4-8 inches in length.
This is a dry jerky with a semi-moist surface feel. The strips have little flexibility in that they'll crack open with any amount of bending. Biting off chunks is actually rather easy due to a brittle nature, while chewing is slightly labored.
The chewing texture starts out feeling dry, and tends to break apart easily due to that brittleness. It chews down without much resistance and when it gets down to a soft mass, it has a dry, overcooked texture, though still meaty.
The strips appear to be very lean, I can't find any pieces of fat, tendon, or gristle. Nor did I encounter any unchewable wads of tissue, and nothing stringy.
As for clean eating, there's a light bit of moisture and specs of black char picking up on fingers. There's almost no tiny fragments flying off my lap or desk as I eat.
Smoke-N-Jerk sells this Original Black Pepper beef jerky from its website at a price of $5.99 for a 4oz package. If you buy four packages, the shipping comes to $5.25 if shipped to Southern California. That works out to a price of $1.87 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.87 price per ounce, it seems to offer a fair value. I'm getting a low level of snackability through an ok, but satisfactory flavor, and a dry, overcooked chewing texture. That price is actually the same as what you'd pay for the major brands of jerky at grocery stores, and I think it offers a comparable snackability.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Original Black Pepper beef jerky from Smoke-N-Jerk seems to have the right idea of offering a jerky that emphasizes a smoky natural meat flavor, but the sample I was given has such a heavy smokiness, and a charred flavor, that it ends up with a bitter, acrid character that takes the spotlight away from the meat flavors.
There were some pieces in this sample that were rather thick, and as such the inner meat was able to overpower the smoky, charred outer layer and provide a good flavor. Otherwise, the rest of the jerky felt dry and overcooked, instead of chewy the way you expect jerky to be. This reminds me of the outer layers of meat on barbecued beef ribs where they get overcooked and charred.
But like I said, I think Smoke-N-Jerk is on the right track, perhaps just need to tone down the smokiness and charring. That may let the other flavors come through, and that might also retain more of the soft, moist chewing texture I found in the thicker pieces.
For my recommended beer pairing, I'd go with a thick, creamy imperial russian stout. Try the North Coast Old Rasputin, or the Alesmith Speedway.
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