Next in the series on Jerky Hut is this Chernobyl variety. See my previous reviews of their Cowboy, Golden Nuggets, and Mild Teriyaki varieties.
Jerky Hut is a brand of Jerky Hut International, Inc., based out of Hubbard, OR. The brand which is often seen at boat shows, gun shows, car shows, and trade shows of every kind, was started over 30 years ago by Steve Risch. The company makes jerky from its own USDA inspected facility under its parent company, Saddle Mountain Meats.
This Chernobyl is described by the company as "The Total Meltdown" and "Painfully Hot". It's part of their Habanero line of beef jerky, which includes the Montezuma's Revenge (1x habanero), and the Nitro (2x habanero). This Chernobyl is 3x habanero.
Beef, water, corn syrup solids, seasonings (salt, sugar, brown sugar, maple sugar), spices, crushed red chili peppers, teriyaki sauce, smoke flavoring, worcestershire sauce, black pepper, monosodium glutamate, salt, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a lot of chile pepper flavor followed quickly with a good deal of burn. There's a light sweetness, and light saltiness.
The chewing flavor starts with some saucy flavor and a slightly increased saltiness. There's just a tiny bit of natural meat flavor noticeable.
For being dubbed "Chernobyl", along with the phrases, "Total Meltdown" and "Painfully Hot", it seems to hold up well. I'm getting a good deal of burn in this. I'd rate it on my personal heat scale as "hot" (level 5 out of 5). It's still not quite the hottest jerky I've ever had, but could easily compete for the second-most hottest. I can feel my blood warming up from the capsaicin rush, my scalp starting to sweat, my nose running, and my eyes misting.
The burn is not quite the stinging, stabbing heat that cuts into my tongue the moment it touches my tongue, but it does come on quickly enough. For those of you who love really hot food, this should suit you plenty.
Otherwise, this jerky seems to have a simple flavor, primarily the flavor of chile peppers. There's a light sweetness I pick up from the surface, a moderate saltiness, something of a saucy flavor (I can't quite name the flavor), and very light natural meat flavor. I can also pick up a bit of the smoke flavoring.
Even though this Chernobyl variety is part of Jerky Hut's habanero pepper line of jerky, I don't quite taste the unique flavor of habanero. What I taste is the red pepper flakes, though I get the burn of the habanero.
Overall, what you're going to notice in this is a strong burn, and a lot of red chile pepper flavor. You'll get a light sweetness, moderate saltiness, and a very light natural meat flavor.
These are slices of whole meat, cut into slabs of medium thickness, and in small, medium, and large sizes.
This is a dry jerky with a dry surface feel. But it still has a flexible, pliable quality. Biting off pieces requires a bit of work and some light gnawing and tearing. Chewing seems a bit easier, but still rather chewy, or lightly tough.
The chewing texture starts out feeling stiff, and requires some laborious chewing before it starts to break down. Once chewed down to a soft mass, it tends to feel somewhat mushy, with a light meaty feel, but not really steak-like.
I don't see any fat on these slabs, nor did I see any gristle or tendon. However, I did find a fair amount of stringiness and ended up with some unchewable tissues.
In terms of clean eating, I get a lot of red chile pepper flakes flying off as I tear pieces apart, but otherwise no residue sticking to my fingers.
YummyJerky.com sells this Chernobyl variety from its website at a price of $10.00 for a 4oz package. If you bought six packages, the shipping to Southern California works out to $6.54, for a total of $66.54. That works out to a price of $2.77 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.77 per ounce price, it seems to be a fair value. I'm getting an average level of snackability, due to a satisfying flavor, decent meat consistency, and average chewing texture. That price is considerably higher than major brands of jerky found in grocery stores, yet doesn't seem to be any more snackable.
As an extremely hot beef jerky, at the same $2.77 price per ounce, it's a good value. I'm getting a lot of heat, a great deal of heat, quite a bit more than many other brands that seem to exaggerate their claims, or build up your expectations and not deliver.
I'm giving this an average rating.
This Chernobyl variety from Jerky Hut delivers on its claims to be "Painfully Hot", generating a lot of burn, enough to keep me wiping the sweat off my forehead and neck throughout writing this review. It's a jerky for those who can handle REALLY hot foods. If I were to rate this jerky just on heat alone, I'd award it a best rating.
But considering the whole package, the flavor intensity, flavor complexity, natural meat flavors, meat consistency, and chewing texture, it's actually quite comparable to the major brands. It's rather one-dimensional in flavor, relying mostly on red chile peppers, with only a very light natural meat flavor. The meat consistency seems decent, though somewhat tough, and the chewing texture doesn't go above average.
But for folks who wants LOTS of burn, and who love the flavor of chiles, but want it in a meat snack, this is definitely your calling.
For my recommended beer pairing, stick to something with a lower alcohol level so as not to exacerbate the burn, and something creamy to help quench the fire. Try a Boddington's or a Guinness Stout.
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