Jesse James Beef Jerky is a brand of JJS Co, LLC based out of Austin, TX. It's been on the market for about a year. They also sell a line of steak sauces, BBQ sauces, and drink mixes under the same brand at www.jessejamessauces.com.
The company was founded by Steve Gunn, a Hollywood cameraman, art director, photographer and trained gourmet chef. The entire Jesse James product line sells in approximately 1,000 stores nationwide, and is expanding into a wholesale distributor and online retailer.
Their beef jerky comes in only one flavor, Original. It's smoked over real hickory wood, and manufactured in a USDA inspected facility. Steve Gunn claims it has a flavor comparable to "fine smoked hard salami", and is based on a "top secret Old West recipe".
Beef, soy sauce, water, spices, salt, garlic, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a salty flavor, followed by a light smokiness. Moments later, a faint bit of black pepper is noticeable.
The chewing flavor starts with an increased saltiness, then followed by a cured meat flavor, and a stronger black pepper flavor. There's just a touch of garlic noticeable.
As for being described as having a flavor comparable to "fine smoked hard salami", I could see how Steve Gunn could make that statement. This jerky has a cured meat flavor, very much like what you'd find in beef sausage. But it doesn't at all taste like salami to me, it just shares the cured meat flavor.
And as for also being described as based on a "top secret Old West recipe", well I think this jerky does have an old fashioned flavor, primarily due to being cured in salt, but also due to a well-noticeable hickory smoke flavor.
The ingredient that seems to generate the most flavor in this jerky is a combination of the cured meat flavor and hickory smoke. There's a seasoning of black pepper and garlic that kicks in a nice supporting cast of flavors. After eating several pieces, the black pepper builds up a lot of strength, and all but takes over the jerky entirely.
The level of saltiness in this feels to be at a medium level.
Overall, it's a simple tasting jerky that relies on the flavor of cured meat with real hickory wood smoke, supported by a duo of black pepper and garlic.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced thin, into medium and large sized slabs.
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. The slabs have a good deal of flexibility when bent against the grain, and have a soft plastic feel. Tearing strips of meat off these pieces seems very easy to do, while chewing is chewy and somewhat tough.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff and plastic-like, with a good deal of initial chewing resistance. Several seconds of chewing and sucking and it starts to soften up, and then several seconds of more chewing it finally chews down to a soft mass. At that point, it feels meaty, but not at all like chewing a piece of steak. It tends remain in shreds, not really meshing together like a steak.
These slabs appear to be very lean, I only see one sizeable streak of fat. I encountered no gristle or tendon, no stringiness, and nothing unchewable.
It's also fairly clean eating, with no residue on my fingertips, but some very fine fragments of meat falling on my lap as I tore strips off.
Jesse James Beef Jerky can be purchased online from its website at a price of $30.00 for six packages, with each package weighing in at 2.5oz. Shipping costs $5.00. That works out to a price of $2.33 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.33 per ounce price, it's a fair value. I'm getting a fair amount of snackability for an overall satisfying flavor, good meat consistency, though a chewy, slightly tough, chewing texture. Compared to the major brands of jerky found in grocery stores, it costs a little bit more, though doesn't seem to provide much more.
I'm giving this an average rating.
Jesse James Beef Jerky offers up an old fashioned style beef jerky flavor marked by the taste of thinly sliced salt-cured beef with a noticeable real hickory smoke flavor, and then seasoned with a fair amount of black pepper and a light bit of garlic.
Folks who prefer dry, thin sliced jerky might want to try this, if you particularly want that old fashioned flavor. But folks looking for a beef jerky that offers a flavor unlike anything else in the market, this just doesn't seem to have it. To me, there isn't much here that pushes it above average.
But it's still has some snackability to it, and still offers a satisfying flavor. For me, after reviewing 230+ brands of jerky thus far, this tastes and chews like the average lot of jerky.
I think a good beer pairing for this is something lighter in body with a stronger malt flavor. Go with the Newcastle Brown Ale, or the Widmer Drifter Pale Ale.
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