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Jerky so good it should be illegal

By Erik Mathes

If ever the government were to declare a certain snack illegal, it would likely be the spicy, dry-aged beef jerkies made by Righteous Felon. Why else would the company casually refer to itself as a “cartel” and use its products to honor notorious characters like Che Guevara, Pablo Escobar, and even Biggie himself?

Having said that, one taste of Righteous Felon’s wares would easily steer you to the other side of the law, but something so packed with flavor is clearly worth the risk of incarceration just to get one more taste. After all, these guys only use Black Angus Beef from Roseda Farm, located about 70 miles from where RF is based in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Then they lace their meat with some of the most potent substances known to humankind, such as black truffles, Carolina Reaper chiles, and you guessed it, craft beer.

That’s what makes RF’s collaboration with Victory Brewing Company, “Victorious B.I.G.”—“beer infused gastronomy”—so hypnotic to the palates of innocent, first-time tasters. As legend has it, one night at the Victory Brewpub, a splash of Storm King Imperial Stout (the gang’s favorite beer since childhood, errr since age 21) collided with RF’s flagship O.G. Hickory jerky, creating a flavor masterpiece that’ll hook unsuspecting eaters quicker than crack. Beyond the beer, this one gets kissed with cracked black pepper, molasses, brown sugar, hickory smoke, and a bouquet of other spices including cloves, garlic, and chili powder to create a sweet and peppery snack that you’ll huff down before you know what hit you.

There’s also the equally addictive “Truffle-O Soldier,” dubbed “the first black truffle jerky in American history.” Spiked with summer truffles and a savory mix of onion and garlic powder, paprika, chili powder, and a dose of brown sugar, it’s the kind of snack that bridges the gap between blue collar and bougie so seamlessly that it could unite factions of the world that hitherto hated each other.

Though the members wouldn’t confirm, rumors are swirling that the Cartel plans to unveil its first brick and mortar later this year in the Philadelphia area, which will feature their not only growing jerky line-up of jerky, but other artisan brands, craft drafts, and a menu that revolves around Black Angus Beef sourced solely from Roseda Farms. But for now, while it’s still street legal, there’s a package of Righteous Felon’s jerky ready and waiting to be delivered to you—so what are you waiting for?

Word on the Street

  • Food & Wine raved about the 21-day dry aging performed on the Roseda Black Angus beef before RF’s “jerkification” process.
  • RF got a shout out in Vista Today for its “higher class,” “artisan” jerky.
  • Main Line Today gushed about RF’s creative, spicy flavor combinations and its “wide-ranging, preservative-free roster.”
  • RF is in the process of creating limited edition flavors using wine, chocolate, bourbon, and other highly addictive ingredients.
  • As part of The Motherlode package, you can score the honey-habanero flavor of Hank Sauce, one of RF’s conspiring companies, that isn’t even available on the Hank Sauce website. Let’s just say the RF cartel has “connections.”

It’s in the blood

Righteous Felon founder Brendan “El Jefe” Cawley started making jerky at the tender age of 12. With the dehydrator he bought with birthday money and the know-how he got from his jerky-making uncle, he began concocting his own spicy recipes in the basement. Cawley and his fellow cartel mates then started slinging said jerky during recess in middle school in dubious packaging that made it seem like he was slinging other substances. The rest, as they say, is history.
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