Next in the series on A&J South Florida Jerky is this "Fire Hot Habanero". Refer to last week's review of their Spicy Habanero, the earlier one of their Mild Habanero, or their Original.
A&J South Florida Jerky is a brand of A&J South Florida Jerky, Inc. based out of West Palm Beach, FL. The brand has been around since 2006. It's run by Andy Cohron and Jim Torhorst, a couple of buddies who had been making jerky for themselves and friends over the past 15 years. They make all their jerky in their own USDA approved facility.
This Fire Hot Habanero is described by the company as being based on the same jerky as their Original flavor, but with four times the number of habanero chiles as thir Mild Habanero, and double then their Spicy Habanero.
Beef, soy sauce, sugar, habanero pepper, garlic, black pepper, ginger, soy lecithin.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light sweet and light saltiness. With some sucking I can pick up a light habanero flavor, while a bit of heat starts building.
The chewing flavor starts with a bit more saltiness and then some natural meat flavors come in. The soy sauce becomes lightly noticeable towards the latter part of chewing.
For being labeled as "Fire Hot Habanero", it seems to hold up to that name. I'm picking up a good deal of heat, what I would rank on my hot scale as "medium hot" (level 4 out of 5). But I'm also getting more habanero flavor than compared to the company's Spicy Habanero and Mild Habanero varieties, enough to where a chile lover can enjoy it.
Unlike with the company's other varieties, this one doesn't seem to have the dominant soy sauce flavor. I don't really pick up much of it until the latter part of chewing once some of the other flavorings have worn off. I'm sure this Fire Hot Habanero variety is still the same as the company's Original, just with lots of more habaneros, but maybe the extra habanero in this is cancelling out some of the soy sauce flavor?
And nor can I pick up any of the ginger like I could with the other varieties.
But what seems to come through better is the natural meat flavor. It's more easily noticeable than with the company's other varieties, but still not the dominant flavor.
In fact, I can't really identify any single ingredient as having the more dominant flavor, it seems to be a trio of habanero chile flavor, natural meat flavor, and a saltiness combined. There's a of touch of sweet on the surface that lingers throughout, and then a light soy sauce that doesn't come through until the latter part of chewing.
These are slices of whole meat, some sliced thin, others sliced medium, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a dry jerky but with a lightly sticky-oily surface feel. They have little flexibility in that they easily crack open and break apart with some bending. Biting off chunks seems easy, and chewing seems moderately easy.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff and slightly brittle, without much initial chewing resistance, breaking apart in a few chews. At first it starts to feel crumbly, but as it continues to chew down to a soft mass, it seem to take on a steak-like feel, but still with a crumbly nature.
I can see small streaks of fat on some pieces, while others seems like pure meat. I didn't encounter any gristle or tendon. I do find a fair amount of stringiness in several pieces, and some pieces resulted with unchewable wads of tissue.
In terms of clean eating, my fingers pick up a light sticky and oily feel, in some cases enough that I needed to lick and wipe them off before touching my keyboard.
A&J South Florida Jerky sells this Fire Hot Habanero beef jerky from their website at a price of $4.50 for a 4oz package. If you bought four packages (sent to Southern California), they tack on sales tax of $1.17 plus $5.00 shipping, for a total of $24.17. That works out to $1.51 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.51 per ounce price, it seems to present a good value. I'm getting a good deal of snackability for an overall good flavor, and being easy to eat, but with a somewhat crumbly texture. That price is considerably lower than what you'd pay for major brands of jerky at the grocery store, and yet it provides considerably more snackability.
As a Fire Hot Habanero beef jerky, at the same $1.51 price per ounce, it's an excellent value. I'm getting a good deal of heat, and a decent amount of habanero flavor. Considering this jerky is priced lower than many other habanero jerky brands, it's well worth the buy.
I'm giving this a good rating.
This Fire Hot Habanero variety from A&J South Florida Jerky dishes out a good deal of habanero heat with a decent amount of habanero chile flavor.
Considering the company claims this jerky is actually the same as their Original, but only with lots more habaneros, the habaneros seemed to have changed the flavor composition considerably. It's no longer dominated by a light soy sauce flavor, but now an even mix of habanero, natural meat flavor, and saltiness. The soy sauce doesn't become noticeable until the latter part of chewing, and the ginger flavor is even lighter yet.
And because the natural meat flavors and the habanero flavors are stronger in this, I think this Fire Hot Habanero is A&J's best variety of the lot, with their Original being second. But the natural meat flavors still don't define this jerky. I'm looking for that "wow factor" to get this to the five-star level and it's usually a rich natural meat flavor or an awesome blend of seasonings and marinades that gets it there. This doesn't seem to have that.
And I'm still not totally sold on the chewing texture. It does tend to have a steak-like chewing, but it's also a bit crumbly. I noticed that the first few chews can be somewhat brittle which seems to contribute to that.
My recommended beer pairing for this, the smokier malt of a porter should go well with the slightly increased meat flavor, while bringing out habanero flavor. Try the Stone Smoked Porter, or the Alaskan Smoked Porter.
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