Last in the series on Halal Jerky are these Soft Chew Nuggets in Original flavor. See my previous reviews of their Original, Teriyaki, and Hot Hickory slab-style jerky.
These Soft Chew Nuggets are not yet available for sale from Halal Jerky's website, but according to the company are said to be "coming soon".
The name "halal" refers to any product or activity that's in compliance with Islamic Law. In the case of meats, animals must be "zabihah", which is a specific method and ritual in which animals are slaughtered. The folks at Halal Jerky, LLC claim that they have personally inspected the way in which cattle have been slaughtered, and their packaging carries a Zabihah stamp.
Beef, seasoning (salt, spice, sugar, garlic, hydrolyzed soy protein, potassium sorbate). Liquid smoke added. Contains wheat/soy.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a light saltiness, and a faint bit of soy sauce.
The chewing flavor starts with a stronger saltiness, and a more noticeable soy sauce. But the natural meat flavors are quite a bit noticeable as well.
Even though these are labeled as "Original" flavor, the flavor of these are considerably different than the company's Original flavor slab-style beef jerky that I reviewed nearly a month ago. These have more natural meat flavor, enough that it seems to remain as the most noticeable flavor throughout the chewing. Compare that to the Original slab-style jerky, where the natural meat flavors were lighter, and were taken over by the stronger saltiness and soy sauce.
Despite the fair amount of black pepper seasoning visible on these nuggets, I don't get much of their flavor. It adds only just a touch.
The sweetness is detectable, though very light. It's just enough to give the overall flavor a touch of body, and just enough to soften the saltiness. The same is true with the garlic, very light.
The level of saltiness in this feels to be somewhere between medium and high.
Overall, what you're going to taste in this is primarily a natural meat flavor, very comparable to a grilled steak cooked well-done. There's also a significant saltiness and soy sauce flavor, with touches of black pepper and garlic.
These are chunks of whole meat, cut into thick, bite-sized pieces.
These nuggets are dry inside, and have a dry surface feel. I can still bend them, stretch them apart, and squeeze them back together, though clearly not as soft and tender as what you might expect in a package of Jack Link's Steak Nuggets. However, these still manage to have a semi-soft consistency, and are still somewhat easy to chew.
The chewing texture starts out feeling dry and woody, but with the first few chews it's clearly not hard, but somewhat soft. After that, it's chews down with some ease, and doesn't seem to take long to get down to a soft mass. At that point, it feels just like eating a bite of grilled steak, cooked well-done.
There were several of these nuggets with significant chunks of fat on the them, and the ones with this fat tended to contain unchewable wads of tissue, perhaps as tendon or gristle. Meanwhile other nuggets appear and chew as if they were pure meat. Some of them contain a light amount of stringiness.
In terms of clean eating, they seem to be pretty clean. I found no residue on my fingers, and the fact that they are bite sized means no fragments of meat or spice flying off.
Since these Soft Chew Nuggets are not yet listed on the Halal Jerky's website, I don't have a price to provide you. But assuming they're the same price as the company's slab-style jerky, then it would work out to a price of $2.00 per ounce ($5.99 per 3oz package, with free shipping).
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.00 price per ounce, it's a decent value. I'm getting a decent amount of snackability for a good overall flavor, average meat consistency and good chewing texture. Compared to Jack Link's Steak Nuggets, purchased at the grocery store, this is slightly more expensive, but appears to offer a slightly better snackability overall.
I'm giving this an average rating.
These Original Soft Chew Nuggets from Halal Jerky offers up a lot of natural meat flavor, that when combined with the soy sauce marinade and light black pepper with garlic seasoning ends up giving me the sense of eating a grilled steak. It even chews like a grilled steak.
The blend of seasonings and marinades in this are quite common and nothing unusual, yet these nuggets manage to offer a stronger natural meat flavor compared to the company's slab-style jerky, and if I were to judge this just on those grounds, I'd give it a four-star rating.
But what keeps me from awarding this any higher were the significant chunks of fat I found on several nuggets, and these nuggets tended to contain unchewable tissues, and even some crunchy tissues, like gristle. I don't mind little pieces of fat, but not large pieces with unchewable tissues, at least not at this frequency. If Halal Jerky could apply more quality control to eliminate these nuggets, and provide more chunks of pure meat, it would greatly enhance the snacking pleasure.
Compared to Jack Link's Steak Nuggets, which I think is what Halal Jerky is targeting, these actually do provide better snackability primarily because of that grilled steak flavor and chewing. Jack Link's nuggets are more soft and moist, but don't exactly feel like you're eating real meat. These nuggets from Halal Jerky are more dry, but still have some softness to them.
My recommended beer pairing for this, stick with the more refreshing, maltier pale ale. The Widmer Drifter Pale Ale, or the Firestone Double Barrel Ale.
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