"Just Right" Beef Jerky from last week.
Willow Creek Meats is a federally inspected livestock processing plant located a few miles outside of McCook, NE. They also operate a retail meat counter and of course, make beef jerky and beef sticks.
The company launched in February 2008 when owners Scott Carlin and Cal Siegfried bought the business, which had then been known as Butler's Beef Acres, from Scott's parents, Harold and Theresa Carlin. Overall, the business has been around since 1964.
Beef, water, jalapeno, seasoning (salt, spice, garlic powder, spice extractive), seasoning (salt, cane sugar, sodium nitrate, maple sugar), potassium sorbate.
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a fair amount of saltiness. There's a light bit of spice brewing in the back of my mouth, and a touch of seasoning, perhaps as garlic, noticeable.
The chewing flavor starts with an increased saltiness, and a noticeable black pepper bite. I can detect a light amount of the jalapeno chile flavor along with a light natural meat flavor, and a light bit of sweet. The spiciness picks up a bit into a light heat.
For being dubbed, "Jalapeno Beef Jerky", it seems to hold up somewhat. I can pick up a light level of jalapeno chile flavor, but only when I compare this to the company's "Just Right" variety that I reviewed last week. Without making a side-by-side comparison, it's more difficult to detect the jalapeno flavor. There's a moderate level of heat going on in this, which is actually the more noticeable jalapeno characteristic.
Otherwise, the flavors that define this jerky the most is the saltiness, colored with a seasoning of garlic, black pepper, and a touch of jalapeno chile. There's a light natural meat flavor noticeable, and faint bit of sweet.
As for the level of heat in this jerky, I'd rate this as medium on my personal heat scale (level 3 out of 5). Note that the "Just Right" beef jerky I reviewed last week, already has a light bit of heat in it as well.
The level of saltiness in this feels to be high.
Overall, this is mostly a salty jerky seasoned with garlic, black pepper, and jalapeno, with a light natural meat flavor and a bit of sweet.
These are slices of whole meat, sliced into slabs of medium to thick thickness, and in small to medium sized pieces.
This is a slighly moist jerky with a moist, slightly sticky, surface feel. There's a good deal of flexibility in these slabs, almost having a rubbery consistency, but still showing is meat fibers when tearing off strips. Overall, chewing is easy.
The chewing texture starts out with some initial chewing resistance, feeling little rubbery. But it chews easily enough and before too long starts to feel meaty, fibrous, but more like ham. Once chewed down to a soft mass, it feels and chews like real meat.
This jerky appears to be very lean, showing no bits or streaks of fat. I don't any gristle or tendon, and encountered no stringiness at all.
In terms of clean eating my fingertips pick up a light amount of stickiness, but still dry enough to type without licking or wiping them off first.
Willow Creek Meats sells this Jalapeno Beef Jerky from its website at a price of $5.00 per 3oz package. If you bought six packages, shipping would estimate around $7.00. That would work out to a price of $2.06 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.06 per ounce price, it seems to present a good value. I get a decent amount snackability for an overall good flavor, good meat consistency and good chewing texture. Compared to major brands of jerky sold at grocery stores, this is priced similarly, but seems to offer a little better flavor, though much better meat consistency and chewing.
As a jalapeno flavored jerky, at the same $2.06 per ounce price, it's a fair value. While I do get some jalapeno flavor, it's not as much as I would like. I get more heat than I do flavor. Compared to other nationally-sold brand of jalapeno beef jerky, it's priced similarly and offers a similar level of jalapeno experience.
This Jalapeno Beef Jerky from Willow Creek Meats provides a light touch of jalapeno chile flavor with a moderate amount of heat, producing an overall enjoyable flavor. Compared to the company's "Just Right" variety I reviewed last week, there's enough jalapeno flavor in this to push this out of the average lot of jerky brands and more towards the outer edge of the bell curve.
Perhaps if you're used to eating the company's Just Right variety, or used to mild flavored jerky overall, it would be easier to identify the jalapeno flavor. But for someone like me who loves chile peppers and spicy jerky, I find myself wanting more flavor.
If anything, the meat consistency and chewing texture is still the stronger qualities of this jerky, being soft and tender to chew, with nothing unchewable or stringy, and being very lean, it provides a meaty, pleasurable chew for the money.
My recommended beer pairing for this, go with an IPA, such as the Firestone Walker Union Jack IPA or the Lagunitas IPA.
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