You're just one hooker, a van, and an alibi away from a great weekend.

Until I learned the recipe for today’s entry, I always assumed that beef jerky was cultivated from unicorn tenderloin, marinated in puppy dog kisses, and dehydrated in a machine which derived as its energy source the hopes and dreams of small children.  Actually, it wouldn’t surprise me if this was still the case, because beef jerky is delicious.  In fact, after careful scientific processes performed in a manner commensurate with my position as a Registered Scientist, I have come to the scientific conclusion that, scientifically speaking, beef jerky is, for all scientific intents and scientific purposes, “the bees’ knees.”  For most people, beef jerky is an afterthought, purchased on a trip to the convenience store or while in line at le supermarche.  I, on the other hand, not only make sure to note on my grocery list that I need beef jerky, but also indicate which brand I should buy – such is my devotion to the dehydrated delicacy.  But not only are there so many brands from which to choose, but so many styles, as well!  How is one to pick the jerky which will fit not only the palate, but the unique circumstances, of the purchaser?  Well, my curious culinarian, allow me to be your Virgil as we map out the varied terrain of the jerky landscape…  But first, allow me to quickly travel a divergent path, and show you how to make your own beef jerky.

Slice some flank steak into thin strips (freezing the meat prior to slicing helps), then marinate for several hours in a mixture of HP sauce, liquid smoke, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, honey, black pepper, and red pepper flakes.  To dehydrate, simply bungee three or four air conditioning filters onto a box fan, having placed your marinated strips in the grooves.  Place the fan at an angle, and blast away for about 12 hours.  Boom!  Beef jerky.  But, if you’re suffering from the jerky DT’s and need a fix right away, let’s discuss your options:

Jack Link’s Beef Jerky


Jack Links occasionally takes time out from messin' with my stomach to mess with Sasquatch.

Jack Links offers an ass-load of jerky products and I’m pretty sure I’ve tried them all.  In one sitting.  And, inasmuch as I enjoy jerky of all kinds, Jack Links may represent the worst of the protein pantheon that is beef jerky.  Sure, the buffalo wing nuggets are good, and the prime rib strips satisfying, but there’s just something…off  about the texture and marinade.  It’s like watching Funny Girl  after you learned that Barbara Streisand was born with male genitalia.  You still dance around to it dressed in your mom’s clothes, but something about it just wasn’t as great as it had been.

Frank’s Red Hot Beef Jerky


The marketing department apparently missed the memo informing them that this isn't dog food. Mmmm, "sausage sticks." The ad agency of Literal & Prosaic does a bang-up job.

The beef is dry and sinewy and somewhat difficult to chew, and, quite frankly with Stephen A. Smith, I think this stuff is made partly out of notebook paper.  That having been said, I fucking love this shit.  Not because of the beef, mind you, but rather, because it’s marinated in Frank’s Red Hot.  Frank’s, for those of you who don’t know because you’ve never been to college, is the best thing ever.  Seriously, go ask God.  I put Frank’s on everything, and believe me when I tell you that the strippers are getting sick of it.  The whole reason that the beef here tastes so bad, I’m convinced, is because if they had put their wonderful hot sauce over something that was already delicious on its own, well, that would almost be too much for mankind to handle.  It would create some sort of time/space/deliciousness paradox, from which nothing could escape.

Whole Foods Organic Beef Jerky


It fulfills your daily recommended allowance of gross.

“Organic” is apparently a term of art when used in conjunction with beef jerky.  Normally, “organic” implies natural ingredients.  When coupled with jerky, however, it seems to mean “made from old belts.”  Stick to eggs and lettuce, “organic;” I like my jerky with a plentiful patina of pesticides (and alliteration!).

Salmon Jerky


Can we transfer the Salman jihad to a "salmon" jihad? P.S. this fuckin' guy was married to Padma Lakshmi. Wrap your brain around that shit.


I bet she tastes like a Jeff Buckley song.

I don’t know why I was surprised when this shit actually tasted like salmon, but I was.  Not only that, but I was a little offended, too.  I think I had secretly wanted salmon jerky to taste just like the regular beef kind.  And Emmy Rossum.  That the various animals I donated this to wouldn’t eat it, either, should speak volumes.  The stupid thing is that I bought this shit twice.  It’s as though it became a matter of principle, or something, that I get through a whole bag.  And, while I almost took it the distance both times, it remains Salmon Jerky: 2, TCP: 0.  Actually, I’m going to lay down a quick ground rule: jerky should only be consumed if it’s made from beef.  Turkey, chicken, tuna, soy, or whatever else kind of jerky there may be, should never enter your mouth.  Well, okay…  maybe I’m being a bit harsh.  Here’s an exception: if you happen to travel back in time to the eighties and meet a Weird Science-era Kelly LeBrock, and she will only sleep with you if you eat some jerky made of fish, then I guess  it’s okay to do so.  Anything short of this, though, and you’re running afoul of good taste.

The Best Jerky Ever


Seriously, this stuf- whoa, whoa, whoa... There's a beef jerky store?!?!?

The best jerky I’ve ever had is, without a doubt, the kind you find sold loose in plastic bins at little mom and pop stores throughout rural America, God bless ‘er.  If you’re not a fan of viral infections, however, a great store-bought runner-up is Hickory’s Best.  HB is paper thin yet flavorful, sinewy yet moist, erudite yet accessible.  Sold in an inconspicuous-looking, one-pound clear plastic bag, Hickory’s Best will make you wonder why we bother with non-dried meat in the first place.  It will also make you wonder why, when you vomit after eating a whole bag in less than an hour, it feels like Satan himself is trying to claw his way out of your stomach via your esophagus.