What is Italian speck meat made of?
One of the most celebrated foods from Alto Adige, Italy’s northern-most province, Italian speck is a type of cured meat similar to prosciutto but with a distinctive flavor that sets it apart. After being de-boned from the hind leg of the pig, speck meat is rubbed with spices such as juniper and bay leaves, then left to cure for three weeks. After the curing process, the meat is gently smoked with low-resin wood at a carefully controlled low temperature, which helps it retain its characteristic sweet flavor. The slow approach allows it to absorb the subtle smoked flavor and enhance the aromatics from the spices.
What makes speck meat different?
Speck combines two different time-honored preservation processes using salt and smoke. This marriage of Mediterranean and Northern European preparation methods contributes to its distinctive flavor profile. Compared to smoked hams of the Northern Alps, speck is lighter in flavor while the spiced cure gives it more intensity than prosciutto di Parma.
The slow and gentle curing process helps the smoke to saturate the meat instead of just the outer most layers. Specially designed ventilated rooms allow the crisp alpine air to subtly affect the flavor. It also helps form the recognizable casing layer of whitish mold, which mellows and balances the flavor.
History of speck Italian meat
Speck is a celebrated food from Alto Adige, Italy’s northern-most province. Initially, speck was produced to preserve meat, so that it could be stored over a long period of time. Along with other cured meats, speck meat was first mentioned in the 13th century, a time when butchers were developing curing methods and techniques that are still being used today. As pioneers in meat curing, Italians were able to use every part of the animal so nothing went to waste. Another benefit of cured meat is it that it could be eaten year round, making it a popular main course for banquets and feasts.
What does speck meat taste like?
With just the right amount of smokiness and a hint of aromatics like juniper and bay leaves, speck meat has a delicate, well-balanced flavor that reflects the pristine alpine environment of the northernmost part of Italy. The fat content allows for the perfect ratio of smoke, which makes it melt in your mouth and evenly disperses a pleasantly salty, smoky taste on the palate.
What dishes is speck meat used in?
Speck, bread, and wine are the quintessential ingredients for a Northern Italian picnic. Pair it with rye bread, which makes a hearty base for paper-thin slices of this smoky, juniper flavored cold cut. Add your favorite Italian cheese and pickles, plus some fruit on the side to balance the saltiness.
Speck also enhances the naturally briny and buttery flavors of seafood. Chop up a few slices and toss it into a lobster salad, wrap it around scallops instead of bacon, or cut it into thick strips and add it to pasta sauce for a savory, mouthwatering dish bursting with flavor.
Speck meat also makes a tasty and inventive substitution for prosciutto, especially with its delicate smoky flavor and distinctive aromatics of juniper and bay leaves. Crumbled into small pieces and crisped in a pan, Italian speck makes a satisfying sauce for green vegetables or pasta when you combine it with cream and fresh herbs.
Where to buy speck Italian meat
If you’re in the mood for something different than prosciutto or bacon, Supermarket Italy features premium speck from Alto Adige, including a five-pound ham, the perfect amount to keep your pantry fully stocked. Shop for speck today and enjoy the taste of classic Northern Italian cuisine with every bite.