Category Archives: Spicy Snack Food
When Katie Levesque asked me to review her line of jerky I told her, sure, bring it on! And since I already knew something about Katie and Katie’s Premium Beef Jerky, having had it before, (spoiler alert!!) this will be a slam dunk, positive review. Well, I was right about the positive part- the jerky is first rate! But not so much with the slam dunk part. I wanted to be unique! Different! Unusual! Creative! A jerky reviewing master! I wanted to own the jerky and make it my…… well, okay, you get the drift! So I started thinking and decided that I didn’t want the usual, “take a bite, taste and review” review. I wanted to show you, my It’s a Fiery World audience, what makes this jerky special, and so much more than the myriad of brands you see at the mega-mart. So yes, we’ll talk about the products themselves, but also about Katie, the company, and how I like to experiment in the kitchen.
First, the review. Katie has a full lineup of “original” beef and bison jerky, and flavored pineapple jerky. She uses an excellent cut of meat, lean and savory. But what I didn’t find is a lot of tough stringy, hard to eat, tendon and fat. This stuff is easy to eat. It is slightly thicker than run of the mill products, with a very pleasing texture, so it feels good in your mouth. Regardless of flavor profile, the jerky is consistently tender without turning to mush in your mouth. This allows the flavors to escape evenly and fully, making your mouth happy, and your teeth not feeling as though they’d just gone 10 rounds with Clubber Lang! I have tried the original and several other flavors, and regardless of flavor (think original, spicy, more spicy, extra spicy, and holy crap, this stuff has some heat! spicy), the underlying flavor of the meat is preserved, while taking advantage of the various flavors and heat levels. There’s just enough onion, just enough garlic, and just enough of Katie’s special spice blends to make anyone smile. And at around 250mg of sodium (give or take a little), it’s not overly salty, which is a big beef with me. I don’t want to wake up after a jerky eating fest with fingers and ankles that feel like they’re stuffed sausages! I also had the Bison Jerky, and I love that big, full flavor of good, lean bison meat. I actually like bison more than regular “cow”, so having that option is an extra treat! I do wish the bison was available in more flavors! And she has recently teamed up with the Sauce Goddess, Jennifer Reynolds, and added some new, exotic flavors to the jerky lineup, using the Sauce Goddess’s spice profiles! I tasted some in Arizona, and man oh man, was it awesome!
I wanted to play with Katie’s products, so I decided to transform them and use them incommon recipes. Let’s start with the jerky. The pictures give is away, but I first made fajitas with the original beef and bison jerky. And it was a super easy recipe. I took a couple of packs of jerky and cut the pieces into long fajita strips. Next, I dumped a bottle of Born to Hula’s Smokin’ Pineapple sauce (alas, no longer in production) all over the meat, put it in the frig, and let it sit all day. By dinnertime, I had sufficiently rehydrated the meat and took in some of the flavors of the marinade, which added a little sweetness and smokiness that I enjoyed. Of course, you could use any vehicle for a marinade, so let your imagination and taste buds be your guide. I sautéed up some onions and peppers, added the meat to heat it up and blend the flavors (it is fully cooked, remember), and voila! Fajitas were born. The hardest thing about it was cutting up the onion! So hard it made me cry! (sorry…couldn’t resist!) My wife and my youngest gave me a big thumbs up, and I gave Katie’s beef and bison an even bigger thumbs up! Actually using the jerky in recipes helped me to appreciate the quality and inherent tenderness in the cut of beef and bison Katie uses. By the way, this is a great recipe to use for extended camping or backpacking trips.
Now for the pineapple. I know what you’re thinking- how is pineapple jerky different than plain ol’ dried pineapple? Cause that’s what I thought. But here’s the thing- regular dried pineapple almost always has added sugars that turn it more into candy than simple dried fruit, and I’m not into all that extra sugar. So Katie’s pineapple, available in brown sugar and a myriad of other fun flavors (orange, pina colada, and cherry were the ones I tried), is a great, sweet snack alternative. Katie takes great care in getting the pineapple to a nice texture and consistency. It may be a little chewier than regular dried fruit, but I didn’t have any problems, and I don’t consider that a negative in the least. But it’s also more tender than some fruit leathers, and it’s not blended into a mush that is dried almost hard. Simply put, I really like it and it has lots of uses! What uses, you ask? Well, I’m glad you asked, cause we’re going to take a journey into my culinary creative side.
I needed to make a dessert for a work Christmas party, so I made pineapple jerky upside down cupcakes with a cinnamon cayenne brown sugar butter creme icing! I didn’t rehydrate anything, and used a pineapple upside down cake mix, and a brown sugar and butter mixture. I lined the bottom of the cupcake tins with the brown sugar/butter mixture and then added a piece of Katie’s spicy brown sugar flavored pineapple and a piece of cherry flavored pineapple. Add in the batter and top with a few diced pieces of the orange flavored pineapple jerky, and bake like normal! Delish! I added the icing and my co-workers devoured them! One take away for next time – the jerky wasn’t rehydrated first, so it was chewier than i would’ve liked (it is jerky, after all), so I would dice the pineapple and simply add it to the batter. I’d still get the desired flavors while getting a better texture and pineapple bite with each cupcake. But that’s a minor thing. I had a lot of fun playing with Katie’s beef, bison, and pineapple, and have nothing but praise for Katie’s lineup of products. They are rock stars in the world of jerky!
In closing, let me speak briefly about Katie’s Premium Beef Jerky as a company. Her back story is inspiring, and I don’t have time here to give you all the detail, since this article has already run pretty long (couldn’t help it- I had too much fun and enjoyed the jerky too much to just write a brief, “Spark Note” review). But long story short, she started like so many artisan, small batch, food entrepenuers, making jerky for her own pleasure and for friends. She received so much encouragement that she started selling, and fast forward a bunch of years, and here we are- a hard-working, passionate woman with a vision and a great product selling her passion full time! It’s fun talking with Katie, as her passion and excitement for her products and her company show in every conversation, whether it’s in person, or via email or text.
So go to www.katiesbeefjerky.com and load up! You won’t regret it and tell them I sent you! Because, we all know, that food is meant to be fun and yes, Virginia, it is a Fiery World!
The big sale is back, and we will update it as we get new additions to our listings. It usually grows as we get closer to the holiday, so if you are shopping or curious of what will be offered, then keep coming back. If you are a company that would like to add your sale to our listing, then please either email me your whole sale as you wish it to be listed, and I will link to your website or sales page OR you can post below in the comments. We will also we sharing this listing with some other chile blogs and numerous Facebook groups.
It is very important to note that we only want to include companies that have met all the legal requirements to sell products online and ship across the US. I can not speak of international law, so companies wishing to ship outside the US are free to do so at their own discretion. We encourage our Chilehead friends to support these small market companies and the small market companies to support the Chilehead Community.
A huge thanks to Al “Buddah” Goldenberg of I Love It Spicy for getting this sale together.
Howling Dog Hot Sauce
FREE SHIPPING (Priority Mail 2-3 day shipping includes $50 insurance) and 10% off on a set of 5 bottles for $36.00. Regular price is $7.99/bottle.
Mix and Match flavors – Cayenne, Jalapeno, Chipotle, Ghostly Chipotle and Tomatillo.
Black Friday Sale will be buy 3 get 1 free sale, and then will be doing 40% off the entire store front on Cyber Monday.
Heat Hot Sauce Shop
We will be offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $45 with coupon code “ILOVEITSPICY” through Christmas day – our selection has doubled since we did this promotion last year, so you can now get free shipping and low prices on over 400 incredible artisan hot sauces and other fiery foods. Plus, check out our freebies section to add your choice of superhot pods, spicy candy, or hot sauce sample packets, completely free.
We’re also offering 10% off any subscription to our Hot Sauce of the Month Club with the code “CHILEHEAD”. Our monthly club makes a perfect gift, and it includes unlimited free add-on shipping from our online shop. January’s featured sauce will be a brand new release exclusive to us, so members are in for a treat!
On top of all of this, we have some great deals on specific sauces (like Reapercussions for 30% off!), and awesome gift sets too. For a full list of sales visit: www.HeatHotSauce.com/BlackFriday.
Patter Fam Sauces
Discount code BlackFriday2016 for 20% off and Free Shipping on orders over $70
Then we will do Cyber Monday as well, Discount Code CyberMonday2016 for 20% off and Free Shipping on order over $70
Hellfire Hot Sauce
We will be doing our Annual 50% off sale on all of our sauces
Free shipping on orders over $50 through Dec 31st.
We will be offering FREE SHIPPING on all orders over $45 with coupon code “ILOVEITSPICY”. We are approaching 1,000 hot sauces, BBQ necessities (rubs, sauces, marinades), spices, seasonings, gifts and other gourmet foods. Free shipping applies to the US only. This offer can not be combined with any other discounts and is only available from November 25th (Black Friday) to midnight EST November 28th (Cyber Monday).
CaJohn’s Fiery Foods
40% Off on Cyber Monday on all items using CODE: CYBER2016
Bigfat’s Hot Sauce
We are offering 30% off all sauces and gift packs Black Friday through Cyber Monday!! Stay home, shop and avoid the insanity! Use coupon code NOPUSHING at checkout.
Hot Sauce Depot
Free shipping on all orders over $60 on Black Friday 11/25/16. LOW prices and no coupon code needed!v
Kearley Seeds & Pepper Co.
We are offering our first ever Black Friday, Small Business Saturday & Cyber Monday sales! See the sales below. Don’t forget you can grab an e-gift card for the Chileheads in your life while you’re there! Shop online or, if you’re local, you can order online and arrange to pick up your items. This will be first ordered first served!
- Carolina Reaper seeds: 50+ seeds for $9.99! 50 packs available.
- Our already discounted Big Seed Collections will be 25% off! That’s a huge deal!
- Spend $35 or more on products and you’ll get a Basic Seed Starting Kit free! (Not applicable to purchasing gift cards)
- BOGO (Buy One Get One) on the following rare and other seed varieties:
Chocolate Lava Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia, Peach, Moruga Scorpion Red, Brainstrain Red, 7 Pot Primo, Kale, Cucumber, Bean Varieties & Lettuce Varieties (including Collards).
- FREE SHIPPING!!!
Small Business Saturday
- BOGO (Buy One Get One) on the following rare seed and other varieties: Moruga Scorpion Red, Brainstrain, Carolina Reaper, 7 Pot Primo, Kale, Cucumber, Bean Varieties & Lettuce Varieties (including Collards).
- Spend $35 or more on products and you’ll get a Basic Seed Starting Kit free! (Not applicable to purchasing gift cards)
- Our already discounted Big Seed Collections will be 10% off!
BOGO (Buy One Get One) on the following rare and other seed varieties:
- Brainstrain Red, Carolina Reaper, 7 Pot Primo, Yellow 7 Pot Scorpion, Bhut Jolokia Peach, Peruvian White Habanero, Kale, Cucumber, Bean Varieties & Lettuce Varieties (including Collards).
- Our already discounted Big Seed Collections will be 15% off!
- Spend $75 or more on products and you’ll get a Green Thumb Seed Starting Kit free! (Not applicable to purchasing gift cards.)
Crazy Good Specialty Foods
20% off all products and free shipping for orders over $50.
Voodoo Chili Sauces
rotating sales, may change daily, ANY/ALL flash sales (link above) through Dec 15th all include FREE SHIPPING
Wild Bill’s Sauces
Black Friday through the end of November, get 40% off all purchases. Use code: grabone at checkout.
We’re doing a Black Friday/Cyber Monday sale! Take 35% off all products by using the code BLKFRIDAY
Madison Chocolatiers West
30% off sale on order for Black Friday.
Apinya Thai Food Co. – (http://apinya.co/) Huge Black Friday and Small Business Saturday Sale – 50% off of everything with $2 shipping on all orders. Sales direct link: HERE
Both of Dave’s Gourmet hot sauce gift packs are on sale for the entire Black Friday weekend for $19.99. It makes a great gift for spicy food lovers! You can choose from the Super Hot 2oz 4-Pk Wood Crate or the Spicy Six Pack.
25% off coupon code – black
PuckerButt Pepper Company
50% off Hot Sauce and Seeds. Use promo code BLACKFRIDAY2016
Sauce Goddess Gourmet LLC
20% off anything on our site, coupon code- iloveitspicy
now thru Dec 20th
still get free shipping for orders over $50
if you don’t lick your fingers, someone else will
When I heard that Born to Hula was putting a BBQ sauce on the market, I instantly knew I had to try it! Imperial Apple! I’ve been seeing it on the various hot sauce and BBQ groups on Facebook with it’s beautiful label and mouth-watering description! Man oh man!! And lo and behold, a gift arrived at my doorstep today, like manna from heaven! And it was so glorious that I could of sworn I heard angels sing when I opened it! Ten minutes later it was slathered all over my left over grilled chicken breast! And here I am the very same evening just having to share!
It’s a stunning looking label- black with a metallic BTH crested eagle logo and lettering, with a nice unique label shape (see picture!). It has a rich looking, commanding presence with a genuinely German feel and the phrase “100% Natürlich” (that’s natural for you non German speakers!) on the label is a nice touch. And with ingredients like Berentzen Apple Liqueur and Applewood smoked habaneros accompanying the molasses, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, vine-ripened tomatoes and spices, I knew I was in for a treat!
And it did not disappoint! It was thick, robing the chicken evenly, with a nice texture. The richly colored sauce was oh so slightly acidic from the tomatoes and apple cider vinegar, but with just enough acidity to open the palate and get the tastebuds ready for the mild, sweet, apple flavor. Pair that with a zesty pop from the liqueur, a bold “we are spices, hear us roar” statement from the spice blend, and then a subtle, smartly layered habanero based heat that is the undertone for the entire flavor spectrum, and it was just Wünderbar! The applewood smoked habs was a creative stroke of genius, using a nice, bright pepper, but using the applewood smoke to tone down the citrusy sharpness of the hab so it didn’t overpower the other flavor profiles. Born to Hula’s Imperial Apple BBQ sauce now sets right next to a very small club of what I consider top end BBQ sauces!
Ed and Amy Bucholtz have definitely been on a positive roll lately, introducing one winner after another. Their Smokehaus salsa and Smokehaus Blues, the new fatalli based smoked pineapple hot sauce, and now the Imperial Apple BBQ sauce proudly accompany their existing lineup of award winning sauces and spicy snacks. Go to their website, http://www.borntohula.com and stock up on some fiery goodness today! And don’t forget to tell them I sent you! Why, ladies and gentlemen? Because we all know – It’s a Fiery World!!!
When I was approached by Brian Bianchetti from Los Angeles about trying out some of People’s Sausage Company’s People’s Choice Beef Jerky, I did some digging around on the world wide interwebs and discovered that he was part of a family business that started making meat products back in 1929 in downtown L.A. Fast forward to 2016-four generations and almost nine decades later, and they still employ the painstaking, handmade processes utilized when their sausage business first started back in the day. Brian’s dad added beef jerky to their product line along the way, and the rest, as they say, is history!
People’s Choice sent me one of everything they offer: Large packs of thin sliced jerky, their three “signature” lines, and their Beef sticks. What do they all have in common? The quality of beef used is excellent. I wasn’t told what exact cut of beef is used for each, but they all had an excellent base flavor and texture, and I knew I was experiencing a higher quality cut of beef than most jerky I’ve eaten (and I’ve eaten a lot of jerky in my day, folks!). Without exception, it’s a great lineup of styles and flavors. I won’t go into significant detail about every one of them, cause I would jerk you one way and then jerk you another, and then you’d start thinking I was a jerk, and well, we wouldn’t want that, now, would we?! But I will touch on all of them and give a little more detail on a few that truly stood out. So let’s talk some jerky!
The 3 large packs were simply labeled “People’s Choice Beef Jerky” and came in Original, Hot & Spicy, and Teriyaki flavors. They had larger sheets of thin sliced beef, and while albeit tougher than the others, they weren’t overly tough. The Original had a good flavor, focusing on the natural flavor of the beef with a nicely rounded, traditionally minded use of garlic, onion, and other spices. It was slightly sweet, but not overly so, and while not highlighted, had less than 300 mg of sodium per serving, something almost unheard of in jerkyland! As someone who tries to watch my sodium intake, I was very impressed. The Hot and Spicy also had less sodium, but I didn’t find it much spicier than the original. It wasn’t quite a sweet on the front end, and there was a little more discernible pepper flavor, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “hot”. But then again, I’m a chilehead, a lover of heat and spice, so this flavor configuration probably works well for most palates. The Teriyaki was understandably sweeter, and with a fairly subtle soy and ginger flavor profile, which I enjoyed because it didn’t overpower the flavor of the beef. It also had slightly more sodium than the other two, which I would have expected.
The Old Fashioned line (also in Original, Hot & Spicy, and Teriyaki) was slightly thicker and in smaller pieces, and was dry, but not Sahara desert dry, if you know what I mean. The marketing sheet says this line features old family recipes, and the flavor profiles follow closely with the large, thin sheets found in the large packs. The one exception is that the smaller, thicker pieces were not as sweet on the front end, with the exception of the teriyaki. And the Hot & Spicy brought more spice and heat forward, and after eating an ounce or so, I could tell my mouth was “feeling the burn”(If you’re reading this during the 2016 presidential campaign, well, no pun intended!) The sodium content in this line, while higher than the thin sheets, was significantly lower than beef jerky you find in most stores.
The Carne Seca line also used a thicker cut of meat, but it was still lean. It was mostly dry, but not tough. I tried the Limon and Limon con (with) Chile. The lime (Limon translates lime-most of the time) flavor was very, very mild and hard to pick up, but there was a slight “brightness” of flavor that I could only attribute to the influence of the citrus. The “with chile” version added a layer of spice that wasn’t overwhelming and played well in the sandbox. The other traditional Mexican flavors were pleasant, the sodium again lower than you’d expect, and while not my favorite in the lineup, I sure wouldn’t turn it down if offered to me.
The Tasting Kitchen line focuses on limited edition, small batch, special flavors, that the company changes every so often. I sampled the Orange Honey Teriyaki, Sweet Chile Habanero, Garlic Ginger, and Sriracha flavors. The first three mentioned featured thick cuts of lean, moist beef, and I felt more like I was eating a nice flank steak, or maybe a round steak that was marinated forever and fully cooked, but not tough at all. The Sriracha, while very lean and flavorful, was much drier than the other three. It was hard to isolate a definitive Sriracha flavor, but after several bites, I felt a nice spice, and if I closed my eyes and concentrated really hard, I could tell that maybe…just maybe, I was eating Sriracha flavored jerky.
The Sweet Chile Habanero was by far my absolute home run favorite! I wrote notes on every product and I’ll just tell you what I wrote about this one in particular- AWESOME!!!!! Okay, I only used 2 exclamation marks in my notes, but I’m all excited now that I’m sharing my thoughts! It was very moist and tender with a great base beef texture and flavor and a sweet front end. I swear that it almost tasted like it had been candied! Crazy good! The habanero heat layers in very nicely, sliding in behind the sweet, ramping up to a discernible burn, but very manageable for most people. And the heat lingers a bit, just like a habanero should, but the sweetness of the beef and other flavors tempers it to a very enjoyable level. This one is definitely worth multiple repeat performances! And it didn’t have any more calories or significant difference in the amount of sugars, etc. found in the other flavors. The Orange Honey Teriyaki was very moist, and slightly sticky. I could discern the orange, and I almost found this one a tad too sweet, but my wife and jerky lovin’ son ( And for the record, no, I did NOT call him a jerk,…even though he did try to steal some before I was ready to fully share the wealth!) really liked this flavor. The Garlic Ginger was also excellent, with subtle Asian tones (I mean, duh, it does have ginger in it) and a well balanced flavor profile.
And the big surprise for me were the Beef Sticks, also in Original, Hot & Spicy, and Teriyaki flavors. I’m generally not a fan of beef sticks because I find them greasy, either too tough or too mushy, and with an artificial tasting flavor. Not this time! They were lean, not greasy or oily at all, and tasted fresh and natural. They had a nice firm casing that was not tough at all, and the meat was just the right texture and consistency. While the Original and Teriyaki mimicked their thinner cousins very closely in their flavor profiles, I found the Hot & Spicy beef stick to be spicier than its cousin, with a nice, layered heat, which I thoroughly enjoyed! I can’t think of a company making similar products that could shake a stick at them! Get it? Stick at them? Beef stick!? Sorry…couldn’t resist. Anyway, I loved them!
So, there you have it, peeps! A great lineup of beef jerky that boasts something for everyone! From traditional to sophisticated and unique, People’s Choice Beef Jerky lived up to their claim of making things that are made with purpose. It’s very difficult to really get a sense for someone’s emotion in an email, much less their passion, but it was easy for me to tell that this family run business in downtown Los Angeles is proud of their products, their roots, their family, and the handcrafted traditions used in crafting some really smart beef jerky. And well they should be! If I have to wrap the company up in one rating, I’d have to give People’s Choice Beef Jerky and all their collective goodness 4.5/5.0 Fiery Worlds!!! And I promise, I’m not jerking you around! I know! I know! But I just couldn’t resist. Go visit their website at www.peopleschoicebeefjerky.com and tell them that “It’s a Fiery World” sent you! Because we all know, Ladies and Gentlemen, that it truly is a Fiery World!