Wild Hare Jerky about 10 years ago.
Hare was having dinner with some friends from Mexico when they advised him to make cecina. He traveled to Guadalajara, Mexico to learn more about it, and eventually perfected a recipe for his new brand El Norteño.
El Norteño is currently in stores throughou Southern California, the Southwest, and Midwest. It's real wood smoked, with no MSG. Each package comes with a packet of hot sauce. The company also makes a habanero flavored meat stick.
Beef, water, soy sauce, salt, pepper, spices, dextrose, garlic, onion, sugar, garlic powder, sodium nitrate, spice extractive, silicon dioxide.
The first flavors that hit my tongue are seasonings of salt, garlic, onion, black pepper, and perhaps oregano. The chewing brings on more of the oregano, but also a spiciness comparable to cayenne. I can pick up a light natural meat flavor in the background.
For being marketed as "cecina" as opposed to "jerky" it definitely tastes different than classic, American jerky. It's mostly the oregano spice that I notice different, but also the blend of salt, garlic, onion, and black pepper feels different too. I also want to say there's a faint bit of citrus in there, perhaps lime.
Adding a bit of the included Tapatio sauce adds a vinegar and chile pepper component that really spices this up.
The meat consistency is lightly marbleized. It's very dry and quite chewy. Biting off chunks is easy, however, when pulled with the grain. It has a meaty chewing texture, but being so dry, it doesn't feel like steak.
This cecina from El Norteño offers jerky snackers an entirely new experience for its unique blend of seasonings and spices. It doesn't taste "American" at all, but something that could have definitely originated from deep inside of Mexico. Each chew leaches out a savory seasoning, which I think is where this cecina builds its attraction. It's not the tender, soft chewing that Americans seem to want with jerky, but then again, this isn't marketed as jerky. Overall, I think it does a great job of presenting a jerky looking feel, but with a flavor unlike any other jerky.
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