Buffalo Wing Jerky // Long Beach Jerky Co. // Long Beach, CA
It seems so simple on paper: meat plus time equals jerky. And the feed-lot’s worth of cured sticks and slabs and shredded snacks crowding gas-station counters and grocery-store munchie aisles attest to how easy it is to make beef jerky. Anyone can do it — and everyone seems to. But any old neanderthal can toss a steak on a grate and call it grilling; it takes a master to hone such elemental methods into art. Long Beach Jerky’s founder’s grandad was one such pro. His jerky was a legendary Christmas tradition, and the recipe hasn’t been altered since. Thick-cut brisket, tangy citrusy wing sauce — perfection in a pouch. We wouldn’t change a thing.
Teriyaki Brisket Jerky // Chops // New Haven, CT
Jerky was born of necessity — spoil-proof sustenance for long, backcountry rambles. And most these days still tastes that way. A chewy chore, not a choice: old cows, sunbaked into last-resort protein fuel. But can jerky be a treat? When it’s done right: USDA choice brisket, fresh and tender as a quality steak, popping with pepper and pineapple juice, tangy and tender and, dare we say, even refreshing. Fresh from the saddlebag or, as we like it, skewered with a few chunks of pineapple and chared quickly on the grill.
Five Spice Turkey Jerky // Pure Provisions // San Francisco, CA
Road trips do strange things to our stomachs: spinning down that ribbon of highway, we sit motionless for hours, but feel famished by the time our exit sign appears. And while we should, we know, be fueling healthy (and getting enough sleep, and signaling lane changes with ample distance, and keeping both hands on the wheel at ten and two…) our floor mats are soon swamped with candy wrappers and soda cups and that rawhide totem of the lonesome road, gas station jerky. So the boys behind Pure Provisions invented this, the biodiesel to your greasy unleaded: lean, clean protein infused with a beguiling mix of spices like anise and clove. Try with a good Thai beer — frozen, in the “bai wuh” way, if you can find it. Just make sure to pull over first.