02 July, 2009

Pemmican Beef Jerky - Marinades

Ever since I was a kid, Pemmican has been like the Filet Mignon of beef jerky. Wicked high quality, nicely-defined slices of beef with a minimum of crumbs and annoying shreds in the bottom of the bag, and decent flavors that weren't overly high in salt.

Recently, Jack Link's has been giving Pemmican a run for their money - especially with some of the very cool new varieties coming out - but still, Pemmican endures, and even brings in a few surprises now and again. Like their "Marinades" line of jerky flavors. I bought a couple bags of the Marinades recently and decided to see how they stacked up against each other. We tried "Steak Fajita" and "Steakhouse Style." I enjoyed both of them, but each for very different reasons.

Steak Fajita - The first thing that impressed me about this variety was the smell. As soon as I tore the pouch open, I was hit by the most delicious aroma of searing beef, roasting green bell peppers and caramelizing onions. It was amazing - like someone had placed a sizzling platter of fajita beef down in front of me. The taste, unfortunately, was not as intense as the aroma - alas! - but still, the pepper, onion, and "grill" flavors were all there to a degree, making this jerky one of the best and most interesting ones I've tried in quite awhile. Top notch all the way.

Steakhouse Style - When I was nine or ten years old, my parents would sometimes take us out to eat at Ponderosa, the big steakhouse chain that has since pretty much disappeared from New England. There was some kind of cheap-meal deal there so they could feed four kids fairly inexpensively. The steaks were thin, and kind of USDA-Not-Choice, and they had that softish texture that chemical tenderization gives beef. And also, they had a "flavor enhancement" that my nine-year-old self sort of liked despite being mildly suspicious of it. I hadn't thought about Ponderosa or their "marinated" steak in years, and they were still far from my mental radar when I bought the Pemmican Steakhouse Syle variety. Only after opening the bag did all those memories of Thursday night out at the Ponderosa Steakhouse find their way back. The smell of the jerky was so familiar...it was...damn, the memory was so close, but so fleeting, and I just couldn't pin it down, until I put a piece into my mouth and suddenly it all came back to me, and I was nine years old again eating a 3/8-inch-thick marinated sheet of beef. I should bring some over to my sister's house. We can reminisce about the flavor and I can flick peas into her hair again, just like when we were kids.

1 comment:

Sparti said...

My dad's best friend was a guy who worked for the Kar's peanuts company. He was a distributor - he'd buy product from Kar's, and resell it to all of the local gas stations and convenience stores. Well, every once in a while he'd get product he couldn't move, and it'd just sit in his basement until it passed it's "sell by" date. At that point, it was fair game. I remember going over to his place with my dad and leaving with garbage bags full of Double Barrels, Kippered Beef Steak, Peanuts, and of course, my favorite, Pemmican Beef Jerky. When I was 16 it was basically my meal of choice - I'd come out of my room, grab an entire package of pemmican and chew through it at my desk over the course of an hour. I went through a lot of toothpicks.

Unfortunately, beef jerky is so expensive these days, and Pemmican is no exception. Good jerky is a snack that costs more than a meal at a diner, including the tip, which I honestly think is kind of embarassing given how easy it is to make the stuff. Every once in a while, though, I'll spot it at Big Lots and pick up a bag. Mmmm, Jerky.