So what is speck?
It is a norther Italian/Austrian ham.
Until recently I never cooked with speck… I’m learning about the cured meat better and how it compares with Parma ham. The main distinction is that speck is smoked and Parma ham is not. These types of smoked hams always remind me of delicatessen sandwiches, layered with sliced meats and Swiss cheese – the subtle hint of smoke is good.
Elsewhere, I often find the taste of smoke can dominate and spoil a dish. There are, however, many dishes where a smoked meats enhance the flavour: French braises such as petite sale, choucroute garni, and cassoulet or any number of Italian recipes which use smoked pancetta.
With this in mind, I set out to find recipes with speck. I was surprised by how few there are. However, I did come across a very good one – it combines radicchio with speck (from Antonio Carluccio’s, ‘Passion for Pasta‘). The rocket is hot and peppery, the radicchio bitter, the speck is sweet and smoky – with a little salt from the Parmesan and acidity from the wine or lemon making a good balance of flavours. The colour of cooked radicchio adds a new interest to pasta. My version is above.