One of the things I love about living in Wisconsin is discovering all the great, little, local food producers around the state, from brewers and distillers, to cheesemakers, to farmers, to butchers, Wisconsin is full of wonderfully crafted, local foods. I don’t claim that Wisconsin has the monopoly on locally crafted food. Every state has it’s fair share of people making great food, but that doesn’t diminish the joy I take in discovering new, local producers here in Wisconsin.
I recently discovered a great, little company just north of Green Bay, in Sobieski, Wi, called Wayne’s Jerky. Wayne has been selling Jerky since 2006, selling to local bars, grocery stores, and at area farmer’s markets. Since then they’ve opened up an online store that can be found at www.waynesjerky.com. It’s still a small operation so you know that Wayne still makes each and every pouch of jerky he sells, and claims that he doesn’t even make the jerky until you place your order online, ensuring the freshest, best quality jerky out there. Wayne’s Jerky offers up a limited number of different flavors, 6 beef, 3 turkey, and 1 mushroom jerky. Sure, it may not be a lot of varieties, but again this is a small operation and to ensure freshness and quality sometimes it’s best to keep your selection somewhat limited.
I was recently in contact with the people over at Wayne’s and they sent me a couple of samples to check out and review. Unfortunately they only sent me some of the beef jerky to sample so I can’t offer up any opinions on their turkey or mushroom, although I have to admit I am very intrigued by their mushroom jerky and will probably have to pick some up soon to satisfy my curiosity. I received samples of their Mild, Teriyaki and Ghost Pepper varieties.
I will have to admit that I am not usually a fan of the chopped and formed type of jerky (as compared to whole muscle jerky) but I was won over by the texture of all 3 samples I tried. This jerky had a great tough, but not too tough chew to it and when it did finally give and fall apart the meat hadn’t been chopped so finely that I couldn’t detect some of the individual muscle fibers. Poorly made chopped and formed jerky can often fall apart, in your mouth, into a crumbly texture that isn’t very pleasing. This jerky still had some body to it
Flavor wise, my personal favorite was the Ghost Pepper flavored jerky while my wife (my wife absolutely loves beef jerky so she jumped at the chance to be my tasting partner) choose the Mild as her favorite. We both felt that the Teriyaki didn’t quite live up to it’s name.
The Mild jerky has a great smokiness to it, supported by just the right amount of saltiness, which in turn is balanced by a hint of sweetness. And it’s all backed up by a noticeable garlic flavor that helps to bring all the other flavors together.
If you like heat, then the Ghost Pepper jerky is for you. It punches you in the face with both it’s heat and Ghost Pepper flavor, and while it definitely burns it’s not so spicy as to render it inedible to all those except the most ardent of chileheads. If you are not a fan of hot foods this is one you will probably want to stay away from. My wife, who is not a fan of super spicy foods, tried it, and while she did not hate it, felt that it was something she could do without. I, on the other hand, ended up eating a small handful, while my other hand clutched an ice-cold beer- a great combination.
Our only disappointment was the Teriyaki flavored jerky. While the jerky wasn’t bad, neither of us really “got” the teriyaki flavor. There was a definite rise in the sweetness level as compared to the Mild jerky, but we really didn’t get any soy sauce, ginger, or sesame flavor that is intrinsic to teriyaki. And in fact, there was a definite celery seed flavor that came through that had no relation to teriyaki at. Again, not a bad piece of jerky, but one that didn’t live up to its name for either of us.
One of the other great things I really liked about this jerky is the way it is packaged. The jerky comes cut into approximately 1 1/2″ squares. This makes for a great, easy to-go snack. Just pop a couple in your mouth and you are off and running and at $6.95 for a 3.5oz bag, that’s a decent deal, compared to some of the other jerkies out there.
So while we felt that the Teriyaki jerky was a miss, for us, overall we were impressed with Wayne’s Jerky and think you will be also. Check them out on there website or look them up on Facebook, and be sure to order a bag or two.