uses for speck?
My wine club gave out speck this month with our wines. I have only ever had it in a chartucherie plate and wonder if anyone has any interesting thoughts about cooking with it. I suppose I could sub it for bacon or pancetta but does anyone have any better ideas or flavors it would pair nicely with? thanks!
You'll often find it in northern Italy - being used where, a bit further south, you'd find Palma ham in the dish.
Speck is smoked dry-cured ham, similar to U.S. country ham, but I believe it has juniper and other spices (nutmeg?) in the dry cure. It is ideal in a cream-based sauce for fresh pasta with dried or shitake mushrooms.
Thinly sliced and layered into a Spanish potato omelette ("tortilla") or diced into a spaghetti frittata would be other ways to use.
I have been smuggling it out of Germany and Austria (or having friends do so) for years b/c I love it and it's so cheap there. Many years ago, while living there (on a tight budget), I used it all the time to make carbonara, and I still do sometimes. But I use it in many things. I especially love cooking it with green beans, lima beans, crowder peas, or with cabbage, or to flavor dandelion greens. It's great to add another flavor dimension to pasta or risotto with shrimp or asparagus or mushrooms. Throw some into a warm potato salad, or on top of a pan-roasted fish. Saute some in oil before browning a pot roast--or brussels sprouts. It's fantastic mixed with minced wild mushrooms, garlic,grated parmesan, and parsley for a bruschetta topping.
And, yes, it subs well for bacon (even better than bacon, I daresay) or pancetta. Very versatile stuff. I love it.
Oooo speck! I'm so envious! I love it's mildly herby flavour that's somewhere in between bacon and ham - with a wee bit of sweetness and a faint touch of smokiness. I think its way underrated for Italian coldcuts. Having it with a glass of red wine (preferably from the north of Italy) is simply heaven! How cool is your wine club!!!
We usually bring a piece back from Italy - and then slice it up on the big deli slicer to go into panini. There are some good rec's already mentioned above from the other CHers.
I love a toasted panino with speck, brie, and red chicory/radicchio; or speck, brie, and asparagus; or speck, gruyere and dill pickle slices. My husband says that speck, fontina, and salsa rosa is a classic italian panino (salsa rosa is like a mix of mayo, ketchup, and whiskey - pink in colour, thus the name).
When we have leftover polenta and speck - we cut the cold polenta in squares - mark both sides of it in a grill pan, then put some cheese and speck on top (gorgonzola or taleggio or fontina work well here) and heat through until the cheese melts.
You could do a yummy risotto with speck, scamorza (smoked mozzarella) and red chicory/radicchio - with a little chopped onion thrown in the pan at the beginning and a splash of red wine.
In a restaurant in Lombardia I had once a delicious plate of pumpkin gnocchi with gorgonzola cheese sauce and chopped speck.
Speck is also really nice with cabbage/brussel sprouts - just sub it in for bacon. Have fun!