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Archive for April 6, 2017

TOP PICK OF THE WEEK: Jeff’s Famous Jerky

We’ve had Top Pick jerkys before, but they are few and far between. Even small-batch artisan brands can be too tough for us, and/or leave remnants of gristle.

Not so with Jeff’s Famous Jerky. Each variety we tried was melt-in-your-mouth tender, with exquisite flavor. When you can say jerky has exquisite flavor, you know you’ve hit the motherlode.

Jeff’s Famous Jerkey, of Mission Viejo, California deserves to be famous, especially for its eye-opening bacon jerky. Bacon or beef, the meats are marinated in deep, layered marinades.

Jeff’s produces more than a dozen flavors (below).

The beef jerky has lower sodium than most brands, with no added MSG or nitrates. The bacon jerky has less sodium than pan-fried bacon.

The only caveat with jerky in general is that it’s high in sodium (don’t buy it for anyone on a salt-restricted diet).

But it’s almost fat free, and it’s solid protein: One ounce has about 23% of one’s daily value of protein. Before we continue, check out:

TRENDS IN JERKY

And America wants more of this high protein, low-fat, grab-and-go snack that’s naturally gluten-free*.

America’s consumption of meat snacks has increased by 18% over the past five years, according to recent data from The NPD Group, a market research company.

House-made jerky can be found more and more on the menus of fine casual restaurants.

  • At Pakpao Thai in Dallas, the Salty Thai Jerky is one of the top-selling shareable starters, paired with a crisp lager or pilsner. The Massaman Curry jerky pairs well with wheat beers.
  • The Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland, makes a jerky plate which includes smoked andouille jerky, pork curry jerky, black pepper beef jerky, dehydrated maple syrup and sriracha chips.
  • At Chapter One restaurant in New York City, house-made jerky is used to garnish for duck wings and Bloody Bull cocktails (a Bloody Mary with added beef broth).
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    Jeff's Famous Bacon Jerky

    Jeff's Famous Maple Bacon Jerky

    [1] Oh so delicious: Jeff’s Maple Brown Sugar Jerky. [2] Hot and sweet: Jeff’s Honey & Jalapeño Jerky. (all photos courtesy Jeff’s Famous Jerky).

     
    Jeff’s Famous Jerky is so tender and tasty, you can bring it to the dinner table and pair it with fine foods.

  • We really enjoy it with oysters on the half shell, and with ceviche or pan-fried scallops.
  • You can lie it across or at the side of a protein, crumble it on top as a garnish, or mix it into other dishes like vegetables and pasta.
  • Consider Spaghetti Carbonara (which has bacon in the recipe), Fettuccine Alfredo (bacon is a delicious addition to the cream sauce), or pasta simply tossed with olive oil, bacon jerky and shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • With beer or a hearty red wine, it’s a natural.
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    Jeff's Famous Beef Jerky

    Jeff's Famous Beef Jerky

    Jeff's Famous Jerky Maple Bacon

    [3] Jeff’s beef jerky. [4] and [5] Packages of Jeff’s Jerky.

     

    JEFF’S FAMOUS JERKY VARIETIES

    Jeff’s makes so many flavors of delicious, tender jerky that you won’t know where to start. (We suggest a build-your-own mixed box.)

    The flavors are variously spicy, sweet, hot, and combinations thereof. More importantly, they are clean, clear and natural, beautifully layered to imbue the meat with complex flavors.

    All are hormone-free, without added MSG or preservatives, made from American meats.

    Bacon Jerky Varieties

  • Honey Brown Sugar
  • Honey Jalapeño
  • Maple Brown Sugar
  • Sweet Cinnamon Roll
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    Beef Jerky Varieties

  • Black Pepper Sea Salt
  • Cajun Style
  • Cranberry Jalapeño
  • Habanero Heatwave
  • Jalapeno Carne Asada
  • Korean Barbecue
  • Orange-A-Peel
  • Old Fashioned Original
  • Pacific Red Hot
  • Sriracha Ghost Pepper
  • Sweet & Smokin’ BBQ
  • Sweet Teriyaki
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    GET YOURS NOW!

    Single-flavor packages are $6.99 at JeffsFamousJerky.com. The beef packages contain 3 ounces of jerky; the bacon packages have 2 ounces.

    Build-your-own variety packs offer a 20% savings; and there are gift boxes with personalized notes.

    For Easter treats, tie a ribbon through the punch hole on top of the bag, and maybe add some bunny stickers.

     
    SOME JERKY HISTORY

    The word jerky comes from the Quechua language of the Incas, who called their dried meat “charqui.” But they were hardly the first people to make it.

    Neither were Homo sapiens, we can deduce. Homo erectus emerged 1.5 million years ago, and evidence found five years ago in a South African cave suggests Homo erectus that built campfires.

    The remains of animal bones and plant ash could be dated to a million years ago. [source]

    By the time Homo sapiens emerged, 195,000 years ago, man had been enjoying barbecue, and by extension jerky, for some time.

    Drying food is one of the first three food preservation techniques, along with salting and, in northern climes, packing with snow in ice caves or cellars.

    Meat dried over a smoky fire is protected from egg-laying insects and multiplying bacteria (they need moisture to live). Cutting it into thin strips makes it easier to chew.

    All the fat is trimmed from the meat because fat doesn’t dry. The dried meat could (and can) then be stored for long periods of time without refrigeration.

    While the prehistoric method of drying the meat was used by other ancient peoples, it was not known in Europe.

    The first visitors to the New World found Native Americans making jerky† from the meat of any animal they hunted (that which wasn’t consumed immediately).

    In addition to helping early colonists stave off starvation, later pioneers who headed west quickly learned to make jerky. It was easy to transport, and was an important, high-protein addition to their diet.

    The meat for jerky could be anything from buffalo to whale. Today jerky can be found in proteins as common as turkey, tuna and salmon, to exotics such as alligator and ostrich.

    Today’s jerky eaters have the luxury of enjoying it as a snack rather than a necessity. We also have the pleasure of using tender cuts of meat marinated in a variety of spices, salt and/or sugar—seasonings that were not available to most ancients jerky-makers.

    Modern jerky is dried in low-heat smokers, as opposed to the ancient technique of hanging strips of meat racks to dry in the hot sun. (The campfire could hold only so much.)

    If your only experience with jerky has been dry and tasteless jerky, you deserve some of the good stuff.
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    *Some brands or flavors within brands may use soy sauce or other glutinous ingredient in the marinade.

    †The pemmican you may have read about in tales of early America was dried meat mixed with dried berries and rendered animal fat. It was invented by Native Americans and used extensively by immigrants in the fur trade. Many years later, it served as a high-calorie food for Arctic and Antarctic explorers such as Robert Falcon Scott and Roald Amundsen.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easier Soft Boiled Eggs & Easter Breakfast

    Some people have never had a hot, runny, seductive soft boiled egg.

    That’s because they’re such a pain to peel when hot that even most restaurants don’t offer them.

    Soft boiled eggs were popular in our family. Nana had a set of vintage silver-plated egg cups; Mom had ceramic cups.

    The eggs were served with “toast soldiers” (photo #2): slices of toasted bread cut into half-inch vertical strips, for dipping into the yolk. (In the photo, the soldiers are topped with lots of yummy salmon caviar.)

    Soft boiled eggs have long been popular among those who could afford the egg cups: Egg cups were found in the ruins of Pompeii.

    No egg cups? Small ramekins, juice glasses and even some cocktail glasses will work. You can also nestle the egg in rock salt (photo #3) or small pebbles.

    You can even make origami egg cups (photo #5). Just follow the video below or this visual from Gathering Beauty.

    TAKING THE TOP OFF THE EGG

  • Nana’s Spoon Method: With a teaspoon tap the top of the cooked egg several time to crack the top of the shell. Place the tip of the spoon under a crack and slice through the egg, lifting the top half inch off as work around.
  • Mom’s Knife Method: With a regular flatware knife, whack the top of the egg as if the knife were a guillotine. For a more pleasant visual, then, as if you were one of Napoleon’s Hussars, whacking the neck off a Champagne bottle with your saber [the technique is called sabotage]). This should cut through the shell and most of the egg. Use the knife to lift off the top of the egg.
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    We are incapable of doing either of these correctly. With the spoon, we end up with fragmented pieces of shell. With the knife, the force can end up spilling yolk.

    Practice makes perfect, but we found a better solution: an egg cutter, also known as an egg topper. It’s an inexpensive gadget and takes up very little room in the gadget drawer.

  • Our Egg Cutter Method: Place the egg cutter (photo #4) around the top half inch of the egg. Squeeze to cut. Remove the top.
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    EASTER EGGS

    Dye The Eggs: Photo #1 shows how they do it at Petrossian.

    Top With Caviar: For Easter or other festive occasion, top your eggs with affordable caviar: capelin, lumpfish, salmon, tobiko, trout or whitefish roe.

    For bright colors, we’re partial to salmon caviar or colored and flavored whitefish roe. (For sturgeon caviar, we waive this suggestion.)

    Check out the different types of caviar and roe* in our Caviar Glossary.

    FOR SCRAMBLED EGGS

    If you want to fill the egg shells with scrambled eggs, you need to sterilize the insides of the shells or else (far easier) buy pasteurized eggs, such as Davidson’s Safest Choice.

    Here are instructions to sterilize the shells from Rem Cooks.

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    *The Difference Between Roe And Caviar

    All caviar is roe, the uncooked eggs of any fish. While caviar has traditionally referred only to sturgeon roe, the roe of many (or any) fish is now commonly called caviar. In the U.S., it is legally permissible to call any roe caviar as long as the fish is identified, e.g. salmon caviar.

    As food writers, we prefer to use the latter with the fish identified, even if it is sturgeon caviar. There are enough different kinds of sturgeon caviar, that even confining the word to sturgeon requires a modifier: beluga caviar, Black Sea caviar, Iranian osetra caviar, farmed white sturgeon caviar, etc.

    By the way, caviar is not a Russian word, nor is it used by Russian speakers. Khaviar, meaning eggs, is of Persian origin, found in the Iranian and Turkish languages. Russian speakers use the word ikroj (pronounced EEK-ruh, with a rolle “r”) for all roe, and use a modifier (beluga, salmon) to specify which type. Habitués of sushi bars will note that the Japanese adapted this word into ikura, salmon roe.

     

    caviar-easter-eggs-petrossian-230sq

    Salmon Caviar Egg

    Caviar Egg

    Egg Cutter

    Origami Egg Cups

    [1] For Easter, dye the eggs after you’ve cooked them (photo courtesy Petrossian). [2] Salmon caviar and toast “soldiers” (photo courtesy Le Coq Rico | NYC. [3] No egg cups? Use rock salt (photo courtesy Sturia Caviar). [4] Or make origami egg cups, with these instructions from Gathering Beauty. [5] How to cut the tops from the eggs (cutter from Amazon)..

     
    HOW TO MAKE ORIGAMI EGG CUPS

    There are several origami egg cup tutorials on YouTube. This one is the slowest (i.e., easiest to follow).
     
     

      

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