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Buy This: Three regional dried and cured meat snacks

Meat sticks from Hickory Nut Gap Meats
Meat sticks from Hickory Nut Gap Meats

You won’t be surprised to learn that chips are America’s favorite snacks. But what’s in second place? Meat snacks like jerky and sticks. We’ve got three Southern varieties for you to try.

Meat sticks from Hickory Nut Gap Meats 

Jamie and Amy Ager are the farmers of Hickory Nut Gap Farm in Fairview, North Carolina and the creators of Hickory Nut Gap Meats, a company that offers fresh meat and cured meat products made from 100 percent grassfed beef and pastured pork. Some of the meat comes from their farm, and some comes from farmers who work in partnership with them and share their vision that farming can be a regenerative process as well as sustainable. Their cured meat products include meat sticks and salamis. We tried the original beef stick, the sweet BBQ meat stick and the pork stick and were surprised to find the pork stick was our favorite. It got a bit of black peppery kick, but the mild sweetness of pork comes through as well. Very satisfying and different from other dried and cured meat products we’ve tried. And it doesn’t hurt that the packages are easy to open. Just tug on one side and strip it down from the top. No need to struggle to open this snack while you’re on the run.

$2.75 per 1-ounce stick. Available at Ingles and online at https://shophng.com/collections/meat-cured-meatshttps://www.hickorynutgap.com/

Beef Jerky from Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q 

Beef Jerky from Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q
Beef Jerky from Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q

The folks at Williamson Bros. Bar-B-Q are widely known for their barbecued meats and classic side dishes. You can enjoy their cooking in one of their three Atlanta-area restaurants and you can buy their sauces in stores across the U.S. A lesser known part of their business is their line of beef jerky. We tried the original flavor and there are mild and hot versions as well. One of the things we especially liked about it was that the package is filled with small pieces of jerky so you’re not ripping bites off a long dried piece of beef (which, let’s face it, can be a pretty tough piece of meat). We are big fans of the original’s black peppery bite and the undertone of the fresh onions and garlic the Williamson Bros. team puts into so many of their products.

$4 per 2-ounce package. Available online at https://www.williamsonbros.com/store/product/beef-jerky/

Biltong from Carnivore Meat Company 

Biltong from Carnivore Meat Company
Biltong from Carnivore Meat Company

Biltong is a traditional South African snack, made by air drying beef steaks that have been seasoned with a vinegar-based marinade. They're dried, then they're sliced, unlike jerky which is cut in strips and seasoned before it's dried. The butchers at Carnivore Meat Company in Franklin, Tennessee, cure steaks with salt and spices and then air dry them for 10 days before cutting into small slices about 3/4-inch-by-1-1/2-inches. We tried the original flavor but the biltong is also available in barbecue, hot and bourbon barrel pepper varieties, and there's a dried beef sausage called droewors as well. (We hear one of the owners is from South Africa and is glad to share these high protein snacks with the rest of us.) The pieces are dense but they're also tender since they're cut against the grain, perfect for sinking your teeth into.

$8 per 4-ounce package, $14 per 8-ounce package. Available online at https://carnivoremeatco.com/.

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