Speck is a cured meat of peasant origin, typical of South Tyrol and Tyrol, present in the butchery tradition of Italy and Germany.
In German, the word “speck” means lard, and in Germany, this cut is known as Südtiroler Markenspeck. Since 1997, speck Alto Adige has been included by the European Union on the list of products with a protected geographical indication (PGI).
The Italian production area of Speck PGI is the small territory of the Province of Bolzano. For this reason, until a few years ago, it was almost unknown in the rest of Italy, and still today, it’s widely more loved and appreciated in the North of Italy.
How is speck prepared?
It’s made from the leg of pork: according to the strict regulations that characterize its production, the pigs from which to start making it can be Italian, German, Dutch or Austrian.
Each thigh has an initial weight that varies between 7.2 kg and 7.6 kg. At the end of production, the physiological weight loss will be around 35%: such is the limit established by the Consortium.
First, all bones are removed from the thigh; then, it’s opened and pulled to take its characteristic shape.
Then, it’s salted and flavoured with herbs and spices that give it its characteristic flavour. At the end of production, there is smoking and seasoning.
The production is marked by aromas that vary over the weeks: first, you feel the spices, then the smoke changes according to the wood used for this particular process.
And finally comes the scent of seasoning, which gives complexity and character to the whole cut. The final stage of production is the twenty-fourth week, the moment in which the ready speck is weighed to verify that the weight has decreased by 35%.
Finally, we move on to the final stage of the production: the product packaging, which is sold as a whole, a ‘baffe’, or sliced.
What nutritional values and what characteristics does speck have?
Speck is a product that helps us maintain a healthy diet and has some fascinating nutritional characteristics for our well-being.
First of all, for its excellent protein content: about 31% of speck is made up of proteins that help us maintain a healthy body.
These are noble proteins, for the most part, which makes them valuable allies.
Speck is also rich in mineral salts. In particular, by savouring its slices, we can store potassium, ideal for the formation of haemoglobin and tissue oxygenation, magnesium, which acts positively on the nervous and muscular systems. There’s also phosphorus, which contributes to the formation of bones and teeth.
In addition, this cured meat is rich in B vitamins, which help the body and the children’s heart and nervous system.
Whether sliced or diced or “a baffe”, there is no difference in its taste and nutritional characteristics. Even in trays and with the modified atmosphere, it holds perfectly as if just sliced. The expiration date is shortened precisely to ensure that it does not lose even one of its features.
To best enjoy it when we buy it already packaged, the secret is to remove it from the refrigerator and open the tray at least ten minutes before eating it: it will be perfect, as if freshly sliced.
Speck is the main ingredient in many delicious recipes
With its characteristic aroma, smoky touch, pleasant and soft unique taste and versatility, Speck Alto Adige PGI is ideal for creating recipes to make it both the main character and supporting actor of your dishes.
It is perfect as an ingredient, both in the sliced version and cut into cubes or even chopped inside fillings and meatballs. Speck can be combined with other meats to bard roasts or give flavour to a simple steak; it also goes well alongside soft cheeses or vegetables for delicate skewers or rich rolls.
It plays a leading role in main courses and is suitable for becoming an excellent appetizer in combination with pickles and good bread.
Savoury crêpes with gorgonzola, speck and chopped walnuts
Ingredients for four people:
- 300gr of whole milk
- 40g of butter
- 2 eggs
- 250g of flour
- Salt to taste
- Butter to taste to grease the pan
- 300gr of gorgonzola
- 150gr of thinly sliced speck
- 50g of chopped walnuts
- 100g of grated Parmesan cheese
- 40g butter
- Start with preparing the crêpes: break the eggs into a bowl, add the milk and mix everything vigorously. Gradually add the sifted flour and mix with a whisk to mix the ingredients well and prevent lumps from forming. The texture obtained must be homogeneous.
- Heat a pan with a diameter of 22cm, grease it with a bit of butter and pour in a sufficient amount of dough to cover the entire surface of the pan. Cook one minute on each side over medium heat. Repeat the same procedure until the dough is ready; you should get a total of 8 crêpes
- Create a cream with the gorgonzola (adding a little milk if necessary) and mix well with the chopped walnuts
- Fill the crêpes with the speck slices, the gorgonzola cream and fold first in half and then in four
- Grease a baking dish and place the crêpes on it. Melt the remaining butter and pour it over the crêpes together with the grated Parmesan
- Put everything in the oven and cook for 10 minutes at 180° with the grill mode
Pumpkin risotto, speck and chestnuts
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 350gr of Arborio or Carnaroli rice
- 400gr of pumpkin
- 150gr of speck
- 150gr of cooked chestnuts
- 500ml of Capri blend vegetables
- 80g of grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 onion
- 1 glass of white wine to blend
- Salt and pepper
- Start preparing the pumpkin cream. Cut into cubes and wash the pumpkin. Steam it until it is soft enough to blend and make a cream. Add a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper and set aside.
- Chop the onion and cut the speck into strips
- Add a drizzle of oil to a saucepan and sauté the onion. Once golden, add the speck and let it brown for a few minutes.
- Add the rice and let it toast so that it takes on the flavour. Deglaze with the white wine
- Start by cooking the rice by adding the hot Capri from time to time. Cook for 18 minutes and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Once cooked, turn off the heat.
- Add the pumpkin cream and stir in the grated Parmesan
- Serve and garnish with the boiled and previously crumbled chestnuts
- To taste, finish with a bit of Parmesan
Savoury pie with speck, radicchio and goat cream
Ingredients for 4 people:
- 1 roll of puff pastry
- 300gr of radicchio
- 400gr of goat cheese
- 2 eggs
- 150gr of speck
- Salt and pepper
- Roll out the puff pastry roll in a round baking dish together with its baking paper. Make small holes with a fork so that the pasta does not swell during cooking. Keep aside
- Wash and cut the radicchio into strips. Dry it well with a clean cloth and keep it aside
- In a bowl, mix the goat cheese with the two eggs, a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper to taste. Work the ingredients well to obtain a cream
- Cut the speck into strips and add it to the goat cream. Also, add the radicchio. Mix everything well to have a homogeneous mixture
- Pour the mixture into the pan with the puff pastry. Fold the edge of the dough
- Bake in a convection oven for about 30 minutes at 180 °
Speck: a salami to love
With its characteristics and versatility, this great protagonist of our local butchery is an ally to know and appreciate, both in recipes and for a simple greedy snack. Even if just savoured between two slices of black bread or with cereals, it will be a perfect snack for young and old.
Its unique and defined flavour will make every bite a real journey into nature and the landscapes of South Tyrol. Inserted in recipes, it will give its spicy and warm note to every dish and ensure a successful meal with a mountain flavour.