Ria's RoadKill Jerky is run by Eden Van, based out of Long Beach, CA, having launched in January 2011. Eden got started in making jerky after receiving compliments on his barbecue recipes. He uses USDA Choice top round from his local meat market. All jerky is dehydrated in a smoker. He currently sells through Facebook and eBay while waiting for his new website to finish.
According to Eden, this Cracked Pepper beef jerky is the same as his Original beef jerky, but with freshly cracked black pepper added before hitting the smoker.
Beef, water, cane sugar, soy sauce, garlic, onion, black pepper, lemon juice, monosodium glutamate, peppercorn
The first thing I taste from the surface of these pieces is a well-defined smokiness, having a real wood smoked flavor. A significant sweetness comes in, along with a light salty seasoning.
The chewing brings in a lot of natural meat flavors right away. The cracked black pepper becomes noticeable in light amounts, while a light soy sauce flavor is detectable.
For being marketed as, "Cracked Pepper", it holds up fine. It's actually a light black pepper flavor, mostly because the cracked pepper has fallen off the pieces into the bottom of the bag. Otherwise, the black pepper flavor hasn't seeped into the meat. When I picked up a pinch of the pepper and sprinkled onto a piece, I got a lot of sharp, freshly cracked pepper flavor.
Otherwise, the flavors that seem to define this jerky starts mainly with the real hickory wood smoked natural meat flavor, followed by a well-noticed sweetness. There's a light bit of garlic salt seasoning and soy sauce noticeable to create a light savory character, and then touches of black pepper for added spice.
The ingredients seem to combine to create a very addicting flavor, mostly for the real wood smoke and the rich natural meat flavor. The initial sweetness helps to draw you in, while the garlic salt seasoning and soy sauce are light, but do a lot of work to make this jerky addicting. The cracked pepper is largely just "icing on the cake", giving you some extra spice depending on how much makes it into your mouth before falling off the meat.
These are slices of whole meat, cut into thick slabs of small to medium sizes, with each slab big enough for one or two bites.
This a semi-moist jerky with a dry surface feel, maybe a faint bit of stickiness. Chewing is easy, while tearing off a bite is easy as well.
The chewing starts out feeling tender with a light bit of rubber character. After several chews, it breaks down into a meaty feel, with still rubbery chewing. But once chewed down to a soft mass, it feel like just like a steak cooked medium-rare.
I see tiny flecks and streaks of fat on some pieces, perhaps enough to add a light marbleized flavor. Otherwise, I see no gristle or tendon. I don't encounter much stringiness and don't really find any unchewable tissues.
As for clean eating, it's mostly clean with just a fine film of stickiness on my finger, but still dry enough to type on my keyboard.
Ria's RoadKill Jerky sells this Cracked Pepper variety at a price of $7.99 for a 4oz package. You can buy four of their 8oz packages at a discounted price of $53.99. Shipping is free. That works out to a price of $1.69 per ounce.
For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $1.69 per ounce price, this is an excellent value. Compared to other brands of jerky sold in stores, this has far better flavor, much better meat consistency, and much better chewing texture. You're basically paying bargain-bin prices for top-quality jerky.
As a black peppered jerky, at the same $1.69 per ounce price, it's a decent value. I get only a light black pepper flavor, mostly because much of the pepper seasoning has fallen off the meat and lies at the bottom of the bag. But if you want to take the time to sprinkle it back on the meat, you'll get a rich, sharp black pepper flavor.
I'm giving this a best rating.
This Cracked Pepper beef jerky from Ria's RoadKill Jerky is much like the Original variety, with a well-defined real hickory wood smoked, natural meat flavor, but with a sprinkling of freshly cracked pepper. I'm already a big fan of real wood smoked jerky, but Ria's RoadKill Jerky seems to do an outstanding job of bringing out the hickory flavor while also bringing out an amazing natural meat flavor.
The cracked black pepper is actually light, just like with the garlic and soy sauce marinade, and might be just fine if you're more interested in the hickory smoked meat flavor. But if you really like the sharp, pungent, spicy taste of cracked black pepper, you'll need to pinch some from the bottom of the bag and sprinkle it on before eating a piece.
The meat consistency is excellent, being of mostly all meat with small streaks of fat to create a more marbleized flavor. The chewing feels just like real pieces of steak. This is a one-two combination of excellent smoked beef flavor with excellent tender chewing.
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