Want to find great jerky? Visit your local meat market. I was chatting with a friend about jerky and she asked “Have you tried Celestinos?” A quick road trip to Costa Mesa, CA led me to the doorstep of this family owned meat market and their selection of hand-made jerky. I picked four flavors including the Texas Style Hot Beef Jerky.
When you peel back the label on this Jerky you know you are in for something different from the pre-packaged jerky bought in a convenience store. The aroma of the beef is an immediate tell. You wont find any of the “smoke-flavor” smell dominated by other Jerkys. The smell is pure beef and this is 100% hormone and nitrate free fresh beef. You will immediately notice the translucent nature of the thin cuts of meat and in the body of the meat you can see small traces of fat in the muscle. On the surface, there is a distinct cross hatch pattern from the drying racks and a few small bits of red pepper flakes.
Biting into the Jerky requires a good pull with the teeth to break off a bite size piece. The first flavor you will pickup on your tongue is the light Teriyaki but this flavor does not mask the beef. To me this is the correct amount of flavoring to compliment the meat but not overwhelm your taste buds. As you chew the flavor and texture of the beef is revealed. The chew is strong but the meat breaks down wonderfully as you chew. Finally the pepper is released and the mild heat builds in your mouth as you swallow the bits. Of note, this package also included one piece of end cut. Far thicker than the other pieces this was not easy to eat and required a strongpull to get it apart. But it provided a mouthful of flavor and chewed down just like the thin pieces. Although this is listed as ‘Hot’ this jerky is on the mild side of the heat scale. The pepper heat adds spice but won’t cause the fire alarm to go off.
Celestinos is a butcher-shop Jerky so the package does not share the exact nutritional information but to my palate I will put the sodium in the middle of the pack. From the ingredients we can see this Jerky gets all of its salt from the Teriyaki and is not further salted. At $9.00 (March 2015) for 4 oz. this jerky comes in at $2.25 an ounce which is very close to the same price you’d pay for a grocery-store Jerky.
Overall this is great example of a local artisan jerky. Its got great beef flavor is a natural and healthy and if you are in Costa Mesa you get the opportunity to talk with the guy who is making the Jerky. If you are nowhere near California, take a few minutes and go visit your local butcher. Chances are you’ll find some wonderful Jerky right around the corner.