Monday, March 28, 2011

Jerky Heaven: A Delectable Review

  I had my reservations about joining Twitter.  From what I could tell from my uninformed view, it was just a group of vapid people whose favorite pastimes included looking at the mirror and compressing every single thought that passed through their little minds into 140 characters for the world to see.  When I first joined, these preconceived notions rang true each time I logged in.  Teenie poppers attempted to befriend their idols while those same idols kept their throngs of fans entertained with the earth-shattering news of their latest BMs or outrageous shopping spree.  After seeing this abhorrent display, I seriously considered deleting my account.  Fortunately, I held on and amassed a great group of hunters who loved the outdoors, killing things, and of course, cooking the dead animals in question. Yes, friends, I am a true example of first impressions being completely wrong.  Twitter combined two of my most favorite things in the world, the first being surrounded, daily, by people that I can actually carry an intelligent conversation with; whether it be about the perfect whiskey or a deep discussion about the newest broadhead technology.  The second deals with a long-standing love affair with dried meat.

  College was an interesting experience. From dining halls to food courts, dorm room gatherings to gigantic parties; the university realm was one that I adapted quickly to.  Unfortunately, the food was never up to my standards.  As an intensely vertically challenged female, I must watch what I eat like a hawk.  While my friends could shovel french fries as long as my foot into their emaciated bodies, I had to (and still do) ensure that my salad was devoid of dressing or any other adornment that may grapple onto my thigh, never to let go.  The only way I was able to really eat what I wanted was before and after ice hockey games.  How I miss those calorie-depleting hours of absurd skating, and the meals there afterword.  It was through my intense hockey playing years that I learned the beauty of beef jerky.  With its naturally amazing flavor, low fat and generally heightened level of sodium, the snack was perfect for post-practice or pre-game. Once my love affair started, I made the misinformed notion that one could mainly subsist off of the substance.  Hence, for Christmas, my birthday, and any care package sent from home, beef jerky was the main star of the show.  But just as in any passionate love affair, I realized that there can be too much of a good thing.  Although my heart hurt as I realized that eating a strict diet of salted beef is not good for one's overall health, my love of jerky remained; which brings us to the present.

  I made the good decision of following House of Jerky on Twitter some weeks ago.  I went on their website, salivated at the goods provided and occasionally chatted with the fantastic head honcho, Janie.  Her and her husband, Ron began the heaven for jerky lovers some 15 years ago.  In a spur of the moment decision, they leased a space and began selling the jerky that beforehand was sold roadside.  It is apparent from anyone who visits the site or talks to Janie that while the company came from humble beginnings to grow large, a sense of connection to the customer is perfectly maintained.  This sense of commitment to the customer spurred a frenzy at our household, dogs included.

   I should have been searching for jobs a month ago but instead, I was happily tweeting away, as if I were a songbird myself.  It was then that I read the words, "Anyone want to do a review for our jerky?"  No sweeter words have I ever read online so I stumbled over my own fingers to message Janie.  She ensured that the package would get there soon after taking my information.  Days turned into weeks and before we knew it, a package lay on our front stoop.

   Let me pause here to explain that DU loves jerky with the same passion as hunting.  He buys it constantly, from small shops to supermarkets and always has a pack handy when hunting.  So, when I failed to mention that we were getting a shipment of jerky, he believed that I had been holding out on imperative, life-threatening information.  I got home from the gym to a torn package on the counter, jerky packages spilling about its surface and an angry DU, glaring in my general direction.  I quickly explained that the contents were free for our enjoyment.  He sprinted to the table and began tearing the bags open until I halted his assault.  Looking at me as if I told him there was no Easter Bunny (bless his heart, he still doesn't understand that I'm the one who buys the Cadbury Cream Eggs), he pouted. I then explained that we had to review them in a scientific matter so that my review may be as perfect as the meat that lay dessicated in front of our hungry eyes.

   And so it went.  Days later we sat down as I explained the rules.  We would try each flavor in turn then give the texture, quality and overall taste each a score from 1 being the least pleasant to 5, the most.  This, conceptually, was a great idea.  This process would make it so that there would be perfectly clear scores as to which were favored and which were not.  But like any good idea that fails horribly, going down in a cloud of its own smoke, so did this one.  The first couple flavors have neat lists next to them, explaining the pros and cons in a quantitative way.  The remaining opinions turned into a jumble of numbers from 5 to 700 with adornments like plus signs, arrows, and a myriad of drawings of sad looking pigs with words like HAM and BACON chasing them around the page.  However, shockingly enough we did end up with a clear winner and a clear loser. 

House of Jerky Taste Test Results:
(In ascending order, from our least favorite to the crown jewel)

1. Black Pepper Venison

This was a shocker to us to say the least.  We both have had our fair share of fantastic venison jerky and this just did not match up. The meat just did not taste anything like the deer who lovingly gave up its breath for us to enjoy. The slab of meat did not feel at all like jerky and the texture was slimy. While we were excited for this one, even saving it for last, we agreed that this did not feel nor taste like venison jerky in the least. 

2. Sweet & Spicy Beef Jerky

The weird combination of flavors and the sticky texture turned DU and I off from the start.  However, we agreed that the stickiness resulted from a home-made sauce that clearly adhered to the meat so the texture was not really a factor here but the taste was off.  The heat packed a punch but the sweet did not taste mellifluous at all.  

3. Teriyaki Beef Jerky

 I knew that this would be one of my least favorites, as the smell of teriyaki makes me want to vomit and I never eat Asian food.  DU, on the other hand, worships any culture that reveres the brown liquid.   I had my preconceived notions but I did not hate this jerky.  While I would not choose it to eat forever, it was passable in my book.  DU yearned for more teriyaki flavor but noted that the texture was far better than the Sweet & Spicy; the wet texture working with this flavor in a more balanced way. 

4. Hot Beef Jerky

 Wow.  Talk about a punch.  DU loves his wings suicidal, the kind of stuff the devil would eat on a cold day.  So, when we say this jerky was hot- we mean it. Again, the moist texture was a bit of a hindrance, as we would have preferred a powder-type hot over a saucy hot. But, the jerky delivered what it said it would, really hot, flavorful meat. 

5. Black Pepper Wild Boar Jerky

This flavor was the source of the fleeing pig drawings.  Before we tasted this one, I asked DU what he wanted this to taste like.  His answer? Bacon and Ham. Our results? Better than expected.  We both had never had WB jerky but as of now, we are complete converts.  The jerky tasted like peppered ham that had sat for a while but never dried out.  The interesting combination of flavors tickled our palates and while the pigs may flee, we will chase them down to have another taste of this wonderfully surprising jerky. 

6.  Natural Style Beef Jerky

We both have had more than our fair share of jerky in our lifetime.  Hence, when we ripped open this green package, we weren't expecting much; natural was natural.  How wrong we were.  This, hands down, was the best natural style jerky we had ever tasted.  The pieces broke apart perfectly and melted in our mouths like butter.  DU noted that the texture of the meat is exactly how jerky should feel.  This flavor also scored points with our dogs.  The dried meat is an occasional treat for good behavior around here and as much as it hurt me to give some away, we had to get a family consensus.  Titus and Avery loved this jerky the best, giving it two tails up!

7. Black Pepper Buffalo Jerky

I could go on about how amazing this jerky is but I figured that I'd let my notes do the talking:
DU- I would go to the store to buy this jerky all day, everyday. 
LJ- Questioning life before Black Pepper Buffalo Jerky. 
I believe it's safe to say that we absolutely loved this flavor.  We would have preferred a touch more pepper but we overall, the unique buffalo taste won us over.

8. Black Pepper Beef Jerky

This was a tough choice but given that we love pepper coating almost anything, this flavor was the winner by a hair.  On my end, it scored 700 out of a possible 5 points.  DU gave the jerky a 110% out of an unknown but probably much smaller percentage.  The beef was dried perfectly, having a smoky steak flavor.  The texture was not too dry nor too wet and again, the pepper was perfect.  This was the only container that left only minor traces of what was previously within, hence our crown jewel. 

Overall, the jerky was perfectly made.  One can really tell the difference between what is made in gigantic warehouses and jerky that is lovingly crafted by a dedicated company.  While the sauciness of some of the jerky turned us off, the peppered and natural varieties were by far our favorites.

In my opinion, House of Jerky should rename itself Jerky Heaven, as its product must adorn the walls of God's heavenly palace; angels and saints alike singing its praises.


*A gigantically huge thank you goes out to the awesome people at House of Jerky who made this review and the author's happy belly possible!


LB @ BulletsandBiscuits said...

Well this is perfect timing....we just got a sample pack in the mail today! We make our own so this is a big deal for us to be trying someone else's. Your review make it a bit easier ;)

Anonymous said...

While I totally agree that House of Jerky truly is Jerky Heaven, I have to say that I am very surprised that the Sweet & Spicy was at the bottom of your list! I could live on that wonderful, tender, mouth watering jerky! It is truly THE BEST I have ever tasted..and I have tasted ALOT of jerky! :D
I enjoyed reading your review and maybe I should he happy that Sweet & Spicy wasn't your fave...more for me! YAY! But I hope that your readers do give it a shot and decide for themselves... I shared mine with a few people and they all agreed, "Sweet & Spicy is some of the best tasting jerky ever!"

Murphyfish said...

Hey Odd socks,
Not having the benefit of having tasted this food of the gods(well come on I live in Wales and eat sheep!)I'm intrigued by your review me dear, do House of Jerky export to this little corner of the world? Me thinks that it's high time that I explored this food sensation. Oh it had better be as good as you say or else there'll be trouble...
Best regards as always,


Hunt Like You're Hungry said...

LB- I can't wait to hear your review, Albert Quackenbush of the SoCal Bowhunter did a review as well.

LifeOnPrint- First of all, thank you for stopping by!
Secondly, I don't know what it was about that jerky but it just did not blow me away. It may have been a regional thing? I'm not entirely sure. But I do know that everyone will have different opinions and ours just happened to be opposite yours! All in all, however, the jerky was stellar. They do great work.

Murphy Fish- I KNEW you would comment on my socks. Yes, they're mismatched but it is because I have to buy TINY pairs and they all run away from me. I find them in our back yard, garage and under the couch. Drives me nuts.
But anyways! I will ask Janie about shipping internationally (find her on Twitter!). You may be able to swing a free batch with the sheep jerky idea...