This is it, folks. This is the zenith, the ultimate pinnacle of commercially available beef jerky. I'm sure your uncle has some better jerky he makes in his shed, etc., but for jerky that you can purchase from a store, this is the best I've ever had. I discovered the great brothers Mingua while living in Louisville, Kentucky last year. Louisville was an incredibly fun place to live, but I am too much of a real Yankee to ever settle down somewhere where 'R's are pronounced. Tried California, tried Kentucky, but I always wind up back here, for good or ill. (Ill this time of year, and I don't mean in the rap sense of the word.) My exodus from Kentucky had nothing to do with the Bluegrass state's finest products: Whiskey and beef jerky. The KY is home to the best American whisky I've ever had, and also the finest beef jerky.
Mingua Brothers, a family owned company, is located in Paris, Kentucky. If you don't believe me, check out their website: http://www.minguabeefjerky.com/page2.html
The other Paris, not the dumb rich blonde one, but the one with the berets and pretty ladies, apparently has the best food in the world, but I doubt you'd find better beef jerky there than the stuff that's made in its southern namesake.
From the first time I ever cracked a bag of Mingua, I knew I was in for a treat. The stuff smells awesome, looks awesome, and of course, tastes incredible. Just salty enough, just tangy enough, just spicy enough. Huge pieces of thin sliced beef, seasoned and dried into a truly delectable snack. One of my favorite workday meals in my Kentucky days was a bag of Mingua, a piece or two of string cheese, a bag of chips and a V8. Funny that I gained over 20 pounds while living down there.
I was jonesing really bad for some Mingua when I started this blog, so in the spirit of excellent web food journalism, I ordered two half pound bags from their website. The goods were on my doorstep within 3 days. It was an extreme challenge not to just eat a whole bag at once, especially after having a few libations. I managed to make both bags last about a week, which is impressive when you considering how mouth watering this stuff is. Now its all gone, and all I can do is reminisce. I think back to those times when everything was right in Louisville. I'd have gone for a hike somewhere in the boonies, I'd be watching the sunset over Bardstown Road in the Highlands, some good country music playing on my boombox, sitting on my porch, sipping some of Kentucky's finest bourbon (Buffalo Trace). Dinner cooking in the kitchen, but a few pieces of Mingua in my hand for a little snack. Jay Koning, Jon Dennis and Bobby Falk hanging out, a big stack of hilarious DVDs rented from Wild n Wooly Video waiting to be watched. Things could be real good down there. Sweet and sublime like some Mingua Brothers Jerky.