Cows, Elk, Buffalo, oh my!
WHAT? Jerky reviews on a candy site? I know, you’d better sit down for this. But review jerky I will-and must! it’s one of our favorite things to nosh on. Salty, meaty, manly. But there’s a divide, friends-a great divide, between shitty jerky:
I’ve been eating Gary West jerky for a few years now. I found it at World Market, fell in love with their Cajun spiced variety, and then, of course, World Market stopped carrying it (thanks, life!). It’s a high quality product, chewy and juicy and extremely well flavored. I recently ran into the folks from Gary West at the Fancy Food show, so they sent us a few things to try. First up, the steak jerky.
Delicious. Beefy, savory, with a great chew. I’m not sure what the seasonings are, but they’re likely not more than salt and pepper, ’cause the beefiness is what’s center stage here. Very nice. But…I wasn’t tasting these for the beef. I wanted the weird stuff.
Buffalo. Something I’ve never tried before, so I was really excited about this one.
Hmmm…..Confusing tasting at first. Is it good? I’m not sure. After a few pieces, it hit me that it is in fact good, but the profile of the flavor is very different than what I’m used to. In a word, this is gamey. Which actually isn’t a bad thing, and can be a good thing, but for me…it’s just a bit too…intense and deep tasting. I was really trying to compare it to something, and the closest thing I came up with is that it has a liver note to it-that kind of earthy, strong tone. Interesting, but I wouldn’t order this one myself.
And then there’s elk. Elk, elk, elk, elk….elk. Wow. This was the grand winner for me. Whereas buffalo went in the direction of big, earthy, gamey, the elk goes the other way: defined, savory, …dare I say…delicate? Am I gonna get my candy reviewing card revoked for using the word “delicate”? Let’s use…original. Authentic. Interesting.
There’s a slight…juicy coating to these, as if they were brushed in a glaze before bagging, which adds a nice aspect to the flavor and consistency. The pieces were noticeably smaller than the steak and buffalo-I’m not sure whether that’s random, or if the elk jerky is leaner and whittles down to smaller pieces when it’s dehydrated. Regardless, this was a delicious product, something I’d definitely buy again.
In addition to these three jerkies, Gary West has many more varieties-some of which are my favorites-available on their web site. I encourage you to try some, but when you’re ordering, remember that jerky aint cheap, so…you get what you pay for. 4 dollar gas station crumbly jerky is just not acceptable. You get what you pay for.