Cecina - Cured Smoked Beef
Food - Drink
Cecina: A Spanish Cured Meat That's Been A Delicacy For Centuries
What Is Cecina?
Jamón ibérico might be Spain's most well-known cured meat, but the country also crafts a delicious cured beef known as cecina. The dried beef relies on precise techniques and a centuries-old production tradition, which results in a slightly nutty and smoky flavor and melt-in-the-mouth-tenderness.
Cecina originated in Spain's northwestern province of Castile and León back in the 4th century B.C. At the time, the area was populated by Asturs, a unique Pre-Roman culture, who prepared cecina in their homes and sold it to travelers as a hardy, shelf-stable food perfect for long voyages.
Producing Cecina
While quintessential cecina is made from beef, it can also be made with goat, horse, bull, or rabbit meat. Regardless of the meat, cecina is crafted by cutting the meat into chunks which are then salted; after several days, the salt is washed off, and the meat is smoked in oak for two weeks before curing for up to 22 months.
Serving Cecina
To serve cecina, the outer crust is first removed and the meat is sliced into thin pieces, and most often, cecina is eaten as a tapa on its own or alongside bread and cheese like manchego. However, it can also be incorporated into recipes like carpaccio, added to pizza, salads, or sandwiches, or paired with fruit like melon.
Buying Cecina
While any Spanish-produced cecina is bound to be delicious, those produced in Castile are most heavily regulated and therefore of the highest quality. Due to trade regulations, cecina has only recently begun to be imported into the States, so your best bet at finding it is at a Spanish restaurant or specialty grocer.