Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Papa Dan's Beef Jerky - Carne Asada

Papa Dan's Beef JerkyPapa Dan's is a brand of Batistelli Foods, based in Fullerton, CA. The company has been around since 1997, specializing in its own brand of jerky, but also selling a wide varieties of foods and condiments from other brands.

I know little of the company, gathering only what I was able to find online. They offer a wide range of jerky varieties, even branching off into ahi tuna jerky and turkey jerky.

Carne asada is a very general term describing slices of beef, usually seasoned in spices and often marinated in citrus, and then grilled. It's tossed into tacos, or burritos, salads, or just topped on rice and doused with pepper sauce. Flavors and recipes for carne asada are as varied as beef jerky, so there really isn't any kind of specific flavor.


Beef, lime juice, 1/40th or 1% sodium benzoate, 1/40th sodium bisulfate, lime oil, water, seasoning (salt, garlic, onion, pepper, spices, monosodium glutamate, citric acid, papain, corn oil, paprika, calcium silicate, cayenne pepper).


The first thing I taste when I put a piece into my mouth is a greasy, oily taste, followed by a light saltiness, and bit of spicy tingle in the back. Sucking out the juices, I can detect a faint tangy flavor. In the chewing, I get a bit more tanginess which seems to define itself more as a lime flavor. I'm not getting much else.

For being advertised as a "Carne Asada" variety of beef jerky, I'd guess that it does live up to that billing. Again, carne asada recipes are so wide varied that you can't really pin down any specific characteristics as being uniquely carne asada. However, I do get a light tangy citrus flavor, and just a bit of seasoning. I suppose it's carne asada.

Overall however, this jerky is rather light on taste. By the looking at the photos, it looks like its brimming with flavor, but it's not.

If there's any flavor that defines this jerky over anything else, it's the tangy, citrus flavor of lime. Don't expect anything tangy enough to make your mouth pucker, it's only a light flavor, but still clearly discernable.

Aside from that, I'm not getting any other flavor with enough strength to consider as dominant flavors. I do pick up a light saltiness, and something with a faint spicy tingle in the background.

As for natural meat flavors, I'm not getting any at all. I do get that oily/greasy flavor coating my mouth if that counts as a meat flavor.

I don't see sugar in the ingredients list, but I do detect a sweetness, perhaps it's just the lime juice.

Meat Consistency

These appear to be slices of whole meat, cut into thick strips of about 4-8 inches in length. If you look at the photos, it almost looks like a chopped & formed jerky, or maybe something like "meatloaf jerky". But it all appears to be whole meat, it could have been pounded and tenderized to give it the look that it has.

It's a moist jerky, and mostly soft and tender, perhaps better described as kippered beef strips. They do crack open with a light amount of bending. However, they seem to contain a lot of chewy sinews inside which make it a bit of a struggle to bite off. The meat itself seems easy to chew.

The chewing texture is very much like eating carne asada, though more dry with this being a jerky. But when it hydrates in my mouth, I can't really tell the difference. It feels like real carne asada meat, not mushy, crumbly, or gummy.

This jerky is very oily to the touch, leaving behind a good deal of residue on my fingers requiring a licking and wiping. Also because it can be a struggle to bite a piece off, I tend to pinch down hard with my fingers which makes my fingers more messy.

While I don't see any chunks of fat, gristle, or tendon, these strips are filled with chewy sinews and/or membranous tissues. Every bite I took left behind a wad of unchewable tissue in my mouth.

Snack Value

Papa Dan's sells this Carne Asada variety from its website at a price of $14.99 for an 8oz package. I bought this 8oz package, along with an 8oz package of their Ring of Fire variety (review coming soon), for a total of 16oz. After tacking on the shipping fee, the total came out to $36.94. That works out to a per ounce price of $2.31, putting this into the expensive price range.

For general jerky snacking purposes, at the $2.31 price per ounce, it presents a weak value. I'm getting a fair amount of snackability, mostly from its light tangy lime flavor, and from the moist soft chewing. However, for the higher price you have to pay, it doesn't offer a lot of snackable flavor, and with no meat flavors to enjoy. And that wad of unchewable tissue remaining in my mouth subtracts from heavenly texture of soft meat.

As a carne asada variety, at the $2.31 price per ounce, it seems to be a decent value. I do in fact perceive this as a carne asada flavor, but compared to all the carne asada I've had in my time (and I've had lots living here in SoCal), this is not as flavorful as what you'd normally expect to get. Add to that the higher-end price point, and it's value is moderate.


I'm giving this a fair rating.

This Carne Asada variety from Papa Dan's is rather light on flavor intensity, presenting mostly a light tangy lime flavor, and little else. Considering it offers no natural meat flavors, it needed to pack a punch with seasonings and marinades, but it just doesn't offer much.

While the meat is moist and tender, it's also filled with chewy sinews that each bite I took left me with a sizeable wad of unchewable tissue. It just didn't make for uninhibited meat chewing pleasure.

I actually like beef jerky with a good deal of tangy citrus flavors, and I was pleased with the amount of lime taste I got in this, I just didn't get much of anything else. Overall, it doesn't have a bad taste, though some of you might not appreciate the oily/greasy flavor; it just doesn't provide a lot of snacking inspiration.

I think a good beer to pair up with this is a brown ale.

Rating: Fair

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