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Gourmet Beef Jerky and A Food Gal Giveaway

I had to chuckle upon clicking on Jeff’s Famous Beef Jerky site to hear a rousing and rather whimsical tune about kissing away the “Shoe-Leather Beef Jerky Blues.”

Owner Jeff Richards is that confident that his jerky will banish any blues or horror experiences you’ve had with convenience-store jerky that nearly took out your molars.

He’s sure his will convince you that jerky can actually taste good and be kind to your teeth.

Richards made his jerky for years as a gift for family and friends during the holidays. Finally, in 2006, after giving away more than 25 pounds of the beefy stuff, he decided to give it a go as a business.

Jeff’s Famous Jerky, made in Mission Viejo, CA, now comes in eight different flavors, including Jalapeno Carne Asada and Habanero Heatwave. Recently, I had a chance to try some samples.

The jerky is toothsome with some chew, but not so much as to cause your jaw to ache. The first thing you notice is the richness of this jerky. It tastes like real marbled beef. That’s because Richards uses sliced, whole muscle beef rather than the highly process, extruded meat that other manufacturers do.

This jerky also doesn’t taste primarily of salt, as so many others do. Instead, the Orange Peel variety actually has bits of real orange rind still sticking to the meat, giving it a subtle, rounded citrus flavor. The Sweet Teriyaki tastes of soy, sesame oil and brown sugar. The Cranberry Jalapeno is mid, with the pepper adding more of a grassy note than full-on heat. Indeed, the Black Pepper and Sea Salt carried much more of a kick, with its coating of ground peppercorns. It’s tongue-tingling, but balanced by the sweetness of brown sugar and pineapple juice, and the fruitiness of tamarind.

A serving is about 70 calories with 20 percent of that from fat. Sodium content is 80mg to 560mg, depending upon the variety.

A 2-pack of jerky (in two 3-ounce bags) is $13.95. Every few months, Richards also donates a box of jerky to U.S. troops to share the jerky love.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win three free bags of Jeff’s Famous Beef Jerky in the flavors of your choice. Entries, limited to those in the continental United States, will be accepted through midnight PST March 2. Winner will be announced March 4.

How to win?

Since we’re talking about jerky things, tell me about a memorable jerk you’ve encountered in life. Since I know jerks have a way of bringing out the worst in everyone, just be sure to keep the comments clean, though, if you know what I mean.

Here’s my own answer:

“Of course, it would have to be an old boyfriend. Isn’t it always? I once dated a guy for about a year, who eventually said we needed to ‘take a break.’ Uh, OK, I thought. While I assumed we were just on hiatus to allow him some space, he was telling everyone else he knew that we had broken up. ‘Course, he never told me that. Good grief. I forgive him now. But then? Not so much.”

More Gourmet Jerky: Little Red Dot Kitchen

And: Krave Jerky

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