Ken's Chophouse Jerky is a brand of JerkCo, LLC based out of Owings Mills, MD. The brand launched last October.
Ken Blum got started making jerky in the early 1990s after buying a Ronco Food Dehydrator, and fifteen years later he decided to get into the business of selling jerky. Fans of his earlier creations might remember his first brand name "Bin Lami Salami", which sponsored his race car team. The new name, "Ken's Chophouse Jerky", seems better suited for retail sales.
This Original variety is currently the only flavor the company offers. It's manufactured in a USDA inspected facility, and currently selling through select stores in Maryland and New Jersey as well as its own website.
Beef, soy sauce, hot sauce (vinegar, chile extract, evaporated cane juice, fresh habanero peppers, garlic, onion, 160,000 scoville cayenne peppers, spices, xanthan gum).
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a moderate saltiness and a light soy sauce. Some spiciness comes in along with a bit of heat.
The chewing flavor starts with a slightly increased soy sauce and saltiness, and a bit of sweet. There's also some natural meat flavors,
This jerky's primary flavor seems to start with a soy sauced natural meat flavor, but clearly enhanced by the hot sauce ingredient. The vinegar in the hot sauce is lightly identifiable on its own, along with the flavor of chile peppers. And then there's a light sweetness that tempers things a little.
There's a light bit of tanginess in the chewing that comes from the vinegar.
As the company's only variety, and presumably their Original variety, it has a fair amount of heat to it. On my personal heat scale, I'd put this at medium (level 3 out of 5). Folks who don't handle heat very well might want to take note.
The saltiness in this feels to be at a medium level.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced to a medium thickness, and in strips ranging from three to five inches.
This is a dry jerky with a lightly oily surface feel. The strips don't have much flexibility, cracking open with just a light amount of bending. Biting off chunks seems easy to do, and chewing seems easy as well.
The chewing texture starts out feeling dry and slightly brittle, yet providing very little chewing resistance. It breaks down pretty easily, and chews down to a soft mass with little effort. At that point, it remains a dry, fibrous feel, but more crumbly than anything else. It doesn't really chew like a piece of steak.
Most of these strips appear to be free of fat, but I did find a couple with some small flecks and streaks. But I didn't find any gristle or tendon, and nothing stringy or unchewable.
As for clean eating, my fingertips get a fine film of oil, but still dry enough to type on keyboard. I don't get any fragments of meat falling on my lap.
Ken's Chophouse Jerky sells this Original variety from its website at a price of $6.50 for a 2oz package. If you bought eight packages delivered to Southern California, the total cost plus shipping comes out to $53.50. That works out to a price of $3.34 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $3.34 per ounce price, it's a weak value. I'm getting a fair amount of snackability for a good overall flavor, easy eating, through a dry, crumbly chewing texture. That price is far higher than what you'd pay for major brands of jerky at the grocery store, and offers a better flavor, but a comparable ease of eating, and a lesser chewing texture.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Original beef jerky from Ken's Chophouse Jerky offers a good overall flavor pairing together soy sauce and a sweetened hot sauce with a moderately noticeable natural meat flavor. It generates a medium amount of heat and even creates a lightly tangy chewing from the vinegar.
Even though it's fairly easy to bite off and chew, I found the chewing texture to feel crumbly and dry, and never really hydrated enough to feel like eating a real piece of steak. And considering the word "Chophouse" in the name, I get visions of steak and roasts in my mind.
I think the flavor alone is worthy of a four-star rating, clearly tasting better than what I would get from the major brands of jerky, but I didn't think it was awesome enough to overcome the crumbly chewing texture. If there was a way to retain a little more moisture and flexibility in the meat, perhaps it would generate a better chewing experience.
My recommended beer pairing for this, go with an oatmeal stout. The smooth creamy character will refresh the spicy heat, while the roasted malt will pair with the meat flavors. Try the Firestone Walker Velvet Merlin or the Ninkasi Oatis.
Buy this online: