© Denzil Green
Speck dell’Alto Adige is a piece of meat and lard from a pig, processed to become a charcuterie that is served raw in thin slices. It is made in South Tyrol [Südtirol], Italy.
The overall ratio of the piece of meat should be 1/2 meat, 1/2 lard. Outside, the piece is a brown colour. Inside, the meat is pink, and the fat white or pale pink.
The meat is taken from the thigh (coscia), belly (pancia), loin (costata) or shoulder of the pig; Alto Adige Speck made from the thigh is considered the best.
The meat is deboned, then spread open, trimmed and shaped into rectangular blocks. It is then spread with a curing mixture which varies by producer: a sample mixture would be a base of coarse salt, sugar, and nitrates, flavoured with spices such as juniper berries, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, garlic, paprika, and black pepper. It is allowed to cure for 20 days, during which time the curing mixture is often reapplied.
The meat is then cold-smoked for 20 days over non-resinous woods such as juniper, beech or ash at a temperature not surpassing 68 F (20 C.) Then, it is aged 4 to 6 months at a humidity between 60% to 80% and a temperature between 50 F and 59 F (10 and 15 C.) By the end, it has developed a mould on the outside, which is wiped off before being shipped.
The product received its European PGI status in 1996. The PGI is administered by the “Consorzio Promozione Speck Alto Adige” in Bolzano.
The speck used to be made from only local pigs, but the standards were loosened. It can now made with pigs from anywhere, often coming from as far away as the Netherlands. If you want it from local pigs you have to buy “Südtiroler Bauernspeck Alto Adige” (“farmer’s Speck”), a specialized, premium version.
Import of Speck dell’Alto Adige into America wasn’t allowed until November 2002.
Eaten as is; needs no cooking.
Pancetta or prosciutto.
Nichols, Rick. Speck, suddenly stylish. Philadelphia: Philadephia Inquirer. 12 December 2004.
Wolff, Lisa. Italian Speck enters U.S. market. Yarmouth, Maine: Gourmet News. August 2004.