Question: What’s high in protein, low in fat, portable and has even gotten the thumbs up by some cardiologist as a healthy snack option?
While that may shock you, it’s not a new concept. Drying beef has been one of the oldest ways to preserve meat. But recently, the tasty dehydrated morsels have seen an increase in popularity, more than 12 percent nationwide, according to NBC Nightly News. That translates to almost $3 billion in sales nationwide.
That doesn’t come as a surprise to Dan Hamilton. The Parker County native has been making jerky for almost two decades and has perfected his craft at his business north west of Weatherford.
Dan says what makes his jerky special is his attention to detail.
“We’ve found that if you use good ingredients and good cuts of meat that you don’t have to use chemicals or flavor enhancers and all of that other stuff,” he said. “We like healthy.”
For many months, Dan said he tried multiple combinations of smoke, seasonings and cuts of beef to create the perfect beef jerky, just like it was made in the early 1900s. Finally, after trying hundreds of combinations, he arrived at the recipe that is his signature trademark of his brand, Dan’s jerky.
The 60-year-old makes his gourmet blend in four flavors: the Original Beef Jerky, Peppered Beef Jerky, Teriyaki Beef Jerky and the X-treme Hot Beef Jerky. The most popular selection is a close race between the Original and Peppered. To date, he has sold millions of packages worldwide.
Dan’s journey into the gourmet meat industry began when he realized that his children were growing up and he wasn’t home to see or enjoy them.
“Dan was in the building industry and he was gone so much...he was missing out on the kids lives,” his wife Latha said. “So he said there had to be something he could do as a home-based business to help with that.”
The couple prayed and prayed and Dan, a prodigious reader, began to study how to smoke meat. He said it was "way before" computers became a common household item.
“He said he wanted to make an ‘old timey’ smokehouse - in his spare time - as a hobby,” Latha said.
For some time, Dan sat on the idea, all they while reading and learning how to make jerky, until the idea became a reality.
“He made some and it was delicious,” Latha added.
From there, Dan made jerky for friends who liked it so much they asked if they could buy it from him. His friends told their friends and before you knew it, a business was born.
Today, they have between six and 11 employees depending on whether or not it’s hunting season, when business picks up even more. They sell jerky to more than 400 retailers and process all kinds of wild game. They are certified by the Texas State Health Department as an approved facility utilizing TSHD preparation process and vacuum-sealed to assure freshness and taste.
“We always have goals; we want to reach our potential...whatever that is,” Dan said. “If you’re not growing, you’re going backwards.”
Dan’s Smoke House
When are we open? Monday-Friday 8-5.
How to find us: 2521 Harwell Lake Road Weatherford, Texas 76088
From Weatherford Courthouse, go North on North Main (Hwy. 51) to the 2nd red light.
Turn left on 4th Street.
Go to the 2nd red light and turn right on Zion Hill Road.
Go 6 miles to Harwell Lake Road.
Turn left ¼ mile, we are the 2nd place on the left.
Look for the big blue building.
817-599-0006 plant office.