Prosciutto seems to get all of the attention when it comes to the delicacy of Italian cured meats. But for those familiar with the rich smokey flavour of Speck any opportunity to use it in your cooking is jumped upon immediately!
What exactly is speck?
Speck comes from the northern Italian region of Alto Adige, where the cool dry climate is perfect for curing meats. Like our much-loved prosciutto, speck is made from the hind leg of a pig, though the leg is boned before curing.
Speck is also given a two-part curing process: First it's rubbed with a blend of spices and salt-cured in the Mediterranean style, and then it's cold-smoked in the central European tradition. Though the specific recipe of spices is a well-kept secret, it's usually a blend of juniper, pepper, bay or laurel, and garlic.
Speck is deeply red and more firm in texture than prosciutto. Since it's a cured meat, it can be sliced thin and eaten raw in an antipasti platter, wrapped around sweet fruits, or layered on sandwiches. It also holds up well in cooking, giving dishes a smoky flavour similar to bacon but without a lot of extra rendered fat. You can use it in place of bacon, pancetta, or prosciutto in most recipes. A few slices of speck with a hunk of cheese makes an excellent midnight snack!