This weekend I tasted some amazing beef jerky. I wasn’t looking for it – in fact, I haven’t thought about jerky for years and years – but feel fortunate to have come across it.
Not many people know this, but I love beef jerky – like, a whole lot. I find it to be one of the most delicious things to snack on. When I was in high school, I had a teacher, Mr. Salazar, who made his own jerky and would share it with his students. He taught my advanced english and history classes, and had an unorthodox approach to administering tests – he thought that students did better on them if they had something to eat during the test. So a potluck was scheduled each time we had a major test. His contribution was always beef jerky (he also kept some in his desk drawer). And it was crazy delicious.
I stopped eating it when I went vegetarian. Even when I started eating meat again in 1998, it took me a long time to warm up to beef products. By that time, I’d come to learn that most commercial beef jerky was not made from the best ingredients, and I couldn’t find any “artisanal” beef jerky, so I put it out of my mind.
This past weekend I visited the Greenpoint Food Market, in part to discover some great, locally made food, and in part to support my friend Charlene, who was selling her cookies there. I was happy to see so many savory options (as I’m not eating sugar right now), since last time there seemed to be an overabundance of chocolates, cookies, and candy.
One of the first tables I encountered was staffed by the King’s County Jerky people, and I was instantly intrigued by the idea of artisanal beef jerky. I asked them a little bit about their product, and they were happy to share. Turns out the beef they use comes from local farms upstate, is humanely-raised, grass-fed and grass-finished, and smoked over real wood. There’s no artificial anything, and no MSG.
I tried their samples, first the Classic flavor – so tasty! It is flavorful, well-spiced (with ancho, chipotle, smoked paprika, black pepper, cumin and coriander), and smoky. It smells amazing, too. They make two other flavors, a bulgogi (spicy) and orange ginger. I tried them all, and found I really preferred the classic flavor, though they were all good.
One interesting thing they told me – for them, the grass-fed beef is ideal because it’s naturally low in fat, and when you’re making jerky, you don’t want particularly fatty beef because it slows the whole dehydration process down.
They recently secured a commercial space in East Williamsburg (Brooklyn), so I expect we’ll be seeing their products around town sooner than later. Very exciting! I do not buy many “healthy” snack products – most have so much sugar, or are made with unhealthy oils, or are just way over processed, that they are totally unappealing. This jerky will easily find a home in my pantry. Hooray for quality snacks!