In Alto Adige, Italy, the land of grapes and apples, there are few things as treasured as their beloved speck, the cured ham quite similar to prosciutto or bacon, but made from the rear leg of the pig instead of the belly. Speck literally means “bacon” in German, though the beauty of true speck ham in Alto Adige is the way it is prepared. Often produced by local farmers from home grown pigs, speck is made by aging the ham for a minimum of 22 weeks and up to 1 year. They are cured with juniper and salt and cold smoked over aromatic wood to impart a sweet floral and smoky flavor. Though it can be served with an assortment of dishes, from an additional topping to your favorite pizza or folded into eggs, risotto or pasta dishes, the best way to enjoy the rich, fatty ham is simply by itself, perhaps with a bit of grainy mustard and pickles, or with a simple palate cleanser of cucumbers and radishes, paired of course, with a beautiful wine from Alto Adige. Select a wine indegenous to the region, like a light bodied Schiava or Lagrein. Alois Lageder Lagrein and Campaner Südtiroler Vernatsch from Kellerei Kaltern near Lake Caldaro are both delicious options, both available at Jimmy’s in Dallas. Jimmy’s will also often have speck available, as will Spec’s.
For the plate above, I tried to replicate the incredible speck on the left that we had with Kellerei Kaltern in one of their members vineyards near Lake Caldaro with my own version. I had brought some speck home with me, but as noted, you can also purchase quality speck at Spec’s, and paired it with a Pinot Grigio infused sausage I found at Central Market. A few radishes, celery leaves and cucumbers, and a beautiful presentation and this platter was gone within minutes. It shows, even the simplest of presentations, using the highest quality ingredients is all you need to please any party guest.