It’s difficult to explain Speck to someone that has never tasted it.
In English, the word means “fat” and in Germany it refers to lard.
In Italy, however, Speck is typical in the SudTirol (or, in Italian, Trentino Alto Adige) region – up north, in the Alps that border with Austria and Switzerland. It’s not unlike a bacon-y tasting ham, and is made by smoking and drying the hind quarters of a pig, coated with all sorts of yummy spices.
Rich. Tasty. When my nose gets a whiff of Speck, my tongue starts doing cartwheels in my mouth and my stomach rejoices. When I eat it, it’s mountains and warmth when it’s cold outside and snow and trees and fresh air and Heidi.
If you have never tried it, I suggest that your first experience be a warm chunk of wholewheat bread (ideally, rye), a slither of pickle and a thick slice of Speck.
If you have already tried Speck, then this is the recipe for you 🙂
Put a spoonful of olive oil in a non-stick pan, and heat. Add the chopped onion and simmer until it’s translucent.
Add the Speck. Watch the fat start melting into the onion. Yum.
When the Speck and onion are nicely cooked, add the risotto rice (Arborio or Carnaroli) and stir.
Turn off your music and listen to the rice as it absorbs all the liquids – when it stops making noise, it’s time to add the white wine.
Here it comes!
When all the wine has been absorbed, add either your homemade bouillon cube and a ladle of hot water or a ladle of broth.
While the rice is cooking and you are stirring it to make sure it doesn’t stick (this isn’t paella!), you can take care of the apples. Get an inch of water to boil in a small pan and drop in the diced apples and let them cook over a low fire until just soft (not crunchy but not mush, either)
When the rice is two or three minutes from being ready, gently stir in the cooked apple.
And add a dollop of butter. Which is always good.
Check for salt, add some black pepper if you like it, sprinkle with real italian Parmesan (Parmiggiano Reggiano, please!)…. et voilà!
Your very Italian, very creamy, very good Risotto Speck e Mele is ready to be wolfed down!