Jerky has come a long way from the Slim Jim jerky that you’d grab at your local 7-Eleven store for a quick snack to a $2.5 billion industry producing “real jerky” for health-conscious foodies.
The new jerky is a gourmet product made from a single piece of meat that has been salted and cured. It is loaded with protein, plus it is lo-cal ringing in at under 100 calories per serving.
You can find the “real” jerky at gourmet grocery stores and online—selling for as much as $70 a pound.
Highland Park native, Ricky Hirsch, founder of Chicago-based Think Jerky, has kicked things up another notch with a line of chef-crafted, artisan beef jerky using recipes and flavorings created by some of Chicago’s best chefs. Hirsch has partnered with Laurent Gras (winner of three Michelin stars while chef at L20), James Beard award winning Gale Gand (Food Network and more) and Chicago Baconfest champion Matt Troost (Three Aces, Charlatan), who have created four unique flavors that are available in single serving 1.5 oz. packages.
Think Jerky, which launched in fall of 2015, has beefed up their jerky to include what today’s foodies are demanding. Their meat is pasture-raised, sustainability farmed, paleo-friendly, nitrite and gluten-free, antibiotic and hormone free with one third of the sugar and half of the salt found in most other brands.
The Think Jerky website also shares a number of uses for jerky in chef driven recipes such as this one from WGN-TV noon news broadcast for a healthy kale salad.
Kale Salad with Sriracha Honey Think Jerky
4 Kale leaves, sliced and washed
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup artichoke hearts, quartered
1/2 cup roasted golden beets
2 Tablespoons cup Wasabi Peas or dried edamame
1 package Sriracha Honey Think Jerky, chopped how you like
Your favorite Italian dressing
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and toss with your favorite Italian dressing.
To roast the beets: 2 medium golden…
Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the beets in foil and gather up the foil to enclose them completely. Roast for 1 hour, until tender. Remove them from the oven and let them cool slightly, for about 5 minutes, then peel them by rubbing the skins off. (It will come off in whole big pieces.) Cut the beets up into big chunks.
Think Jerky’s current lineup of flavors includes:
- Sriracha Honey – Made with free-range turkey, Worcestershire sauce, gluten-free tamari, brown sugar, sriracha mix, honey, onion powder and cayenne pepper
- Ginger Orange – Made with grass-fed beef, gluten-free tamari, Worcestershire sauce, cane sugar, ginger, garlic powder, orange peel, onion powder, sesame seeds and cayenne pepper
- Sweet Chipotle – Made with grass-fed beef, water, cane sugar, raspberry juice concentrate, sea salt, ancho chili pepper powder, smoked paprika, black pepper and cayenne pepper
- Thanksgiving – Made with free-range turkey, cranberry juice, dried cranberries, cane sugar, cabernet vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, onion powder, smoked paprika, thyme, sage, garlic powder and marjoram.
Disclaimer: Having never been a fan of the faux jerky, I have been slow to embrace the new jerky. I am passing on this information as jerky is definitely trending and may be something to check out. If you are inclined to do so, Think Jerky offers an eight bag Sampler Pack two 2 bags of each of their four current flavors for $39.95, both online and at some retail outlets.
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