The first review on El Norteño will be on a 1.5 ounce/43 gram bag of their homestyle flavored beef cecina. The word cecina is Spanish for “dried meat”, the same basic definition of jerky. The flavor name homestyle is translated into Spanish on the bag as “Como Hecho en Casa”, which translates in English to “Like the Taste of Home”. This jerky was kindly submitted for review by Justin Jahnke.
This El Norteño cecina brand is distributed by Monet Foods, LLC., and are based out of Belleville, Wisconsin. The El Norteño brand of cecina was officially launched in January 2016. The founder, Scott Hare, worked with the Hispanic community to perfect this authentic Mexican meat snack. Specifically, much input was given from folks in Guadalajara, Mexico. As a unique twist, each bag of cecina includes a packet of the great tasting Tapatio hot sauce.
Ingredients: Beef, Soy Sauce (Water, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Salt, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Caramel Color, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid), Salt, Pepper, Spices, Dextrose, Garlic, Onion, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Sodium Nitrate, Spice Extractive, Silicon Dioxide. Allergen Warnings: Soy
The liquid marinade is comprised of only soy sauce. As for soy sauce ingredient lists, this is one of the poorer choices you will find. It is unfortunate to see that it uses the highly processed sweetener high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), where corn based products have no business being in jerky.
It does not get any better than having 0 grams of sugar per 28 grams of jerky. On the other hand, the salt level is very high at 560mg of salt per 28 grams of jerky. Our preference is 350mg of salt or less per 28 grams of jerky.
Disappointingly, this jerky does use unhealthy sodium nitrite as the main preservative, apart from salt. This cecina does not qualify to have no MSG added because the soy sauce uses the highly processed flavor enhancer hydrolyzed soy protein.
These jerky strips are mainly medium in size, and sliced thin. The texture is quite dry, and fairly easy to chew because these slices are so thin. There are no visible signs of fat, and handling this jerky leaves no oily residue on your fingers.
The first tastes detected are a moderate salt level, along with a mild peppered level. There is a complex, tasty blend of spices, where there appears to be some sort of hot chili pepper, and paprika. With almost no sweetness, there is a good deal of natural beef flavor present. The mild garlic and onion levels are a great addition also.
The jerky itself may rate a 1 out of 5 on the heat scale. Once you add the Tapatio sauce, it soars to a 3 or 3.5 out of 5 on the heat scale. The Tapatio hot sauce dominates all other flavors, where you have the choice of how little or how much to add with the Tapatio package provided. Overall, this cecina does manage to capture an authentic tasting Mexican dried meat product.
A 3 ounce/85 gram bag sells for $3.99. That works out to $2.66 an ounce, which equates to an expensive price. This jerky is recommended to people who want to experience an authentic tasting cecina, and the Tapatio sauce is an added bonus.
This is a plain, clear, resealable plastic bag. There is a label affixed to the front, and nothing on the back except a best before date sticker. The green, white, and red colors are fitting, which represent the Mexico flag.
There are no slogans printed on this bag. The facts printed on this bag are stated in English and Spanish such as “Botana de Carne – Meat Snack”, “Cecina – Dried Meat”, and “Como Hecho en Casa – Homestyle”.
The vast majority of bag categories are covered here with this bag. A minor exception is that the jerky weight is not stated in grams. There is no blurb printed on this bag about this flavor or brand name, but there is no room. To the credit of El Norteño, a phone number is provided for customer inquiries.
Check out their web site: www.elnortenofoods.com