Billy Franks beef jerky is made right here in London. Clerkenwell to be exact (although the Scottish beef commutes from farther afield). Born from the brain of Will Yates, a web-designer by day and ambitious home cook by night, Billy Franks is a small-batch, hand cut, premium beef jerky streets ahead of the competition. So much so that Will was recently asked to produce some extra-special jerky, from 40 day dry-aged Cornish Galloway beef, for the celebrated Cornish Grill roast dinner pop-up restaurant at Farringdon’s Redhook. Get your boots on, we’re off to see a man about a dog and get stuck into London’s pub snack revival.
Billy Franks beef jerky comes in three flavours: Texan BBQ, Teriyaki and ‘Holy F–k’, which is made from The Rib Man‘s request only extra hot sauce. “That’s the addictive one”, chef Carl Clarke (The English Launderette, Rock Lobsta) warns me. He’s not wrong. This lethal jerky will make masochists of us all.
“I alway use the blade of beef. Mostly feather blade, sometimes the roll blade. I’ve tried rump joint, topside, brisket and many more but I keep coming back to blade. It’s harder to butcher and remove the tendons and hard fat content but I’ve found it’s best for flavour and texture”.
- Will Yates, creator of Billy Franks beef jerky
I started with the Texan BBQ flavour. The meat has a pleasingly authentic sweet, smoky smell and is slightly fiery on the tongue but the spiciness dies down quickly, giving way to a maple syrup finish. Cumin leads the barbecue flavours, followed up by a paprika punch and a lemony zing. One of the great things about Will’s jerky is that it’s juicier than its supermarket counterparts. The meat strips are vacuum packed, which means that they don’t have to carry a desiccant like silica gel to keep them dry (or to over-dry them as is often the case), resulting in a wonderful meaty chew and a ‘fresh’ taste.
Now recall the best Chinese spare ribs you’ve tasted. That’s where I am with the Teriyaki flavour. Brown sugar sweetness, saltiness from the soy sauce and spiciness from the ginger all share equal billing, with egos kept in check by a smack of lime juice and a pinch of black pepper.
Wisely enough I left the ‘Holy F–k’ flavour for last. This is one naughty creation. As soon as I opened the bag I could feel the contents goading me into its fiery depths. This jerky commands some serious respect. Scotch bonnet and naga jolokia chilli seeds are clearly visible on the prime beef cuts, which have been spread liberally with a blend of The Rib Man‘s signature sauce and Will’s house marinade. Ever the doting friend, I shared my bag with Jenny Cromey-Hawke, fresh food and deli manager at Fortnum & Mason.
“This ‘Holy F–k’ jerky has bite! It’s really hot, but at the heart of it there is a genuine ‘beefy’ flavour. In terms of beefiness, biltong doesn’t come close to Billy Franks jerky.”
- Jenny Cromey-Hawke
Billy Franks beef jerky is available in 40g packs priced at £2.99. Get yours here.