There is clearly a jerky renaissance under way. At Café Rouge in Berkeley, Calif., the executive chef, Marsha McBride, is making jerky from slices of Niman Ranch chuck and beef bottom round, and from unused meat off carcasses from Chez Panisse. Ms. McBride seasons her meat with brown sugar and cayenne, dries it for four hours, and serves it at the bar on butcher paper. "It's perfect with Scotch and martinis," she said.You said it brohan.
Across the bay at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco, Taylor Boetticher, a co-owner of the Fatted Calf, an artisanal charcuterie, sells paper cones of jerky (at $25 a pound) made from organic grass-fed Marin Sun Farms bottom round that has been cut against the grain in long slices. Smoked over cherry and mesquite wood, and dried in a convection oven, it gets its flavors from organic blackstrap molasses, Jim Beam bourbon, and salt and pepper.
At the Westbank Grill, a restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyo., the executive sous-chef, Laurent Méchin, has wrapped seared scaloppine of foie gras in buffalo jerky that he smokes and dries using a kitchen dehydrator.
"Jerky is a perfect meat product nobody gives much credit," Mr. Méchin said. "It’s low in cholesterol, high in protein, has zero fat and is extremely flavorful. Aside from the salt, nothing is bad for you."
Beef Jerky has been a fave here at The Illadelph since we used to enjoy some damn fine renditions at the local BP come summertime in the mountains.
Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to find a decent piece of b-jerky in the two-one-five. Don’t even front with the stuff they sell at Wawa or A-Plus — if it’s individually wrapped, it’s shite.
That’s right, quality, mass-produced jerky comes unwrapped and is sold in an air-tight jar with three dozen or so other similarly-delectable pieces. (It’s vacuum packed for shipping and then put into the jar by a store/bar employee for retail.) Does this allow for the possibility that someone else has touched your piece of beef jerky once you retrieve it? Sure, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
We used to get said goods delivered to us here on special order from the backwoods of PA… but, alas, that well has since dried up. (Trackside, oh how we miss you so.)
Thus, of late, we've been without quality beef jerky. Even the promising-looking jerky at Trader Joe’s disappoints once you take a bite. (If only Bob and Barbara’s was still producing the goods.)
So what Philly chef will come through and be the first to offer high-end Jerky on their menu? Danny Stern boasts a venison cheesesteak at Rae and Rae looks like it might be a good candidate. But we think Ansill might beat him to it. Come on — bone marrow crostini? Boar prosciutto? Our money is (rather safely, one might assume) on Dave Ansill.
Have at it yall.
For Epicures, a New Take on Jerky [New York Times]
Chew and Chew Again: A Jerky Renaissance [New York Times]