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Archive for Meat & Poultry

TIP OF THE DAY: Chicken Liver Pâté

Here’s a treat for everyone who loves pâté but can’t afford the duck and goose versions; as well as those who won’t eat their enlarged livers due to animal welfare concern.*

This chicken liver pâté recipe, sent to us by the New York Times to share, was published in the January 26th Sunday Magazine section. It is gourmet Super Bowl fare or a spread for any party or special occasion. (Why special occasion? The cholesterol!)

Not only is chicken liver pâté a luxurious spread; it is affordable and quick and easy to prepare. Here’s the full article.

The concept dates back centuries, if not millennia. In modern times, there’s a similar recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering The Art Of French cooking. Our grandmother and her grandmother made a Jewish version; her fat of choice was schmalz (rendered chicken fat, discussed below)—no butter or cream—yellow onions instead of shallots, no wine. Nana’s tip: Don’t overcook the livers—the insides should still be pink.

*The issue of whether or not gavage, the force-feeding of ducks and geese to enlarge their livers, is complex and is not discussed here.



A crock of chicken liver pâté with a side of bacon jam. Photo by Christopher Testani for the New York Times.



You can serve chicken liver pâté in a crock with toast or crackers and a side of bacon jam (make this recipe or buy ready-made bacon jam like Skillet Bacon Spread. (Here’s our review; you can buy it on

  • Serve the pâté with toast points, toasted baguette slices, toasted rye bread, crackers (try Saltines or water crackers), or a mix.
  • Make tea sandwiches, or spread on chicken, roast beef or turkey sandwiches.
  • Spread pâté on a large crouton to serve alongside soup or salad.
  • Spread it atop a filet mignon for a crustless Beef Wellington; or make crustless Wellington hors d’oeuvre by spreading pâté on toast points, topped with a slice of beef and fresh herbs or microgreens.
  • Tuck some under the skin before broiling a chicken. It will melt away during cooking but leave a rich flavor.


    Raw chicken livers. Photo courtesy Anu Shoj
    | Anu’s Healthy Kitchen | Blogspot. Check
    out her recipe for fried chicken livers.



    You can make this recipe in 20 minutes, plus a couple of hours to chill in the fridge.

    Ingredients For 6-8 Servings

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 pint fresh chicken livers, approximately 1 pound, trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Madeira or Port
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt to taste


    1. HEAT a large, heavy sauté pan over medium heat and melt 4 tablespoons of the butter until it begins to foam. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent, taking care not to brown.

    2. ADD the livers, thyme and Madeira or Port and turn the heat to high. Cook, occasionally stirring the livers with a spoon, until the wine has reduced and the livers are lightly browned but still very soft and pink on the inside—approximately 5 minutes.

    3. REMOVE the pan from the stove, and transfer the contents into a blender or food processor, along with the cream and the remaining butter. Purée until smooth, adding a little more cream if necessary. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding salt if necessary.

    4. PACK the pâté into a glass jar or bowl, then smooth the top with a spatula. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about two hours or up to five days. Serve with bacon-onion jam and copious amounts of toast.

    Schmaltz, also spelled or schmalz or shmalz, is rendered (clarified) chicken or goose fat. It is used both for cooking and as a spread on bread in Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine (Austria, Germany and Poland and other Northern European countries).

    The term is Yiddish, derived from the German Schmalz, meaning “rendered animal fat.” While both tallow and lard are forms of Schmalz in German, as is clarified butter, in English the term follows the Yiddish use, referring to fat rendered from poultry.

    Schmaltz was an important fat in the lives of European Jews, who were forbidden by Kosher dietary laws from combining meat and dairy products. They could not use butter in meat dishes; and of course could not use pig-based lard.

    So in order to cook meat and poultry dishes or the sides served with them (potatoes, for example), schmaltz or vegetable cooking oil was required. It was also used to butter bread. The impact on cardiovascular health has become an issue in the last 40 to 50 years.



    FOOD FUN: Football Steak


    A football filet mignon. Photo courtesy
    Empire Steak House | NYC.


    To some, watching a football game while digging into a big, juicy steak is a slice of heaven. That’s why more than a few steak houses have big-screen TVs.

    Chef Jack Sinanaj of Empire Steak House in New York City has gone one better, preparing a special Empire Super Bowl Steak: a 20-ounce filet mignon carved in the shape of a football.

    And yes, you can eat your steak while watching the game on three large screen plasma TVs. There’s a “viewing party” on Super Bowl Sunday, February 2nd.

    Or, you can try carving your own at home.


    The restaurant used grill marks to add the laces. That may be a challenge for some home cooks, but if you’re good with a piping bag, you can add the laces with piped blue cheese butter or other compound butter.



    RECIPE: Asian Wings

    We like Buffalo Wings, but we’re ready for something new (even newer than these fun Deconstructed Buffalo Wings and this Buffalo Chicken Pizza).

    So we jumped on this Asian-inspired wings recipe from Chef Lorena Garcia. Plan ahead: They need to marinate overnight (and can be prepped up to three days in advance).


    Ingredients For Approximately 30 Wings

  • ½ cup of orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds of chicken wings
  • 3 scallions, slivered
  • Optional plate garnish: lemon or lime wedges

    Chicken wings are given the Peking Duck treatment, with hoisin sauce and scallions.



    1. PLACE orange juice concentrate, lemon juice, hoisin sauce, sugar, canola oil, ginger and garlic in a large resalable plastic bag. Seal and shake to mix.

    2. ADD chicken wings; seal and shake to coat evenly.

    3. REFRIGERATE overnight, or up to 3 days.

    4. PREHEAT oven to 400°F. Line a large sheet pan with aluminum foil. Spread wings on foil.

    5. BAKE for 45 minutes, until brown and shiny. Transfer to serving platter, sprinkle with scallions and serve.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Deglaze The Pan

    Have red wine? Pour it in! Photo courtesy


    When you cook or bake with alcohol, you’re probably aware that the heat evaporates much (but not all) of the alcohol. The New York Times report that a sauce made with wine, then simmered and stirred for 30 minutes, can retain as much as a third of its alcohol content. (Results will vary depending on the particular cooking method.)

    But what about the health benefits* of the red wine in the sauce? Since the healthful compounds are in the grape concentrate, not in the alcohol itself, cooked wine without alcohol still appears to have some health benefits. Here’s the full article.

    And that bit of news inspired today’s tip: Use red wine (or other liquid) to deglaze a pan. This is no 30-minute undertaking: You can do it in three minutes.


    Deglazing is the simple process of creating a pan sauces after you sauté a protein: fish, meat or poultry.

    You simply add a cold liquid (beer, brandy, broth/stock, cooking water, fruit juice, vinegar, wine, etc.†) into the pan and scrape up the flavorful roasty bits of protein, called fond, that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.


    This is the same technique used to make gravy from the drippings in a roasting pan.


    Fond is the French word for bottom—in this case, the small, tasty bits on the bottom of the pan. Fond is concentrated flavor: Why scrub it away in the sink when you can turn it into something delicious? Deglazing is simply combining the fond with a liquid to create a sauce.

    Note that fond comprises roasted brown bits. If you you have burned protein on the bottom of the pan, don’t use it: The sauce will taste burned.

    “Fond” is also the French word for stock:

  • Fond blanc is white stock.
  • Fond brun is brown stock.
  • Fond de vegetal is vegetable stock.


    1. REMOVE the cooked fish, meat or poultry to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

    2. POUR off most of the fat in the pan. Turn the heat up to high and add the cold liquid. (NOTE: If using alcohol, remove pan from heat when adding). The liquid will shortly begin to boil.

    3. SCRAPE up the fond with a wood spoon or spatula, as the liquid boils. When all the fond is incorporated, turn down the heat. The sauce is ready.
    *Red wine, in moderation, provides antioxidants, including resveratrol, that may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of “good” cholesterol and protecting against artery damage. Resveratrol is a polyphenol compound found in red wine and certain plants that has antioxidant properties with possible anticarcinogenic effects. Here’s the scoop from the Mayo Clinic.

    †Don’t use cream or other dairy, which can curdle in the heat.


    Remove the protein, add red wine or other liquid, and deglaze the fond into a delicious sauce. Photo by Raz Marinkka | IST.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Spicy Peanut Sauce Marinade & Sauce

    If you like sesame noodles or satay with peanut sauce, here’s another delicious use for it: in a marinade.

    Marinating beef, chicken, lamb, pork or tofu in a peanut sauce-based marinade adds dimensions of flavor.

    Just create a marinade from chicken or other stock, peanut butter, soy sauce, oil, ginger, chili flakes and garlic (see the recipe below). You can also add sherry and honey.

    And certainly, serve a side of peanut sauce for dipping. See the recipe below.


    Satay is actually the grilled meat with which the spicy peanut sauce is served. The sauce is based on ground roasted peanuts; peanut butter can be substituted.

    Spicy peanut sauce is popular in the cuisines of some African countries, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. The term for the sauce in Indonesia is bumbu kacang; elsewhere it is called pecel or sambal kacang.


    Grilled pork skewers, marinated in peanut
    sauce marinade and served with a side
    of peanut dipping sauce (not shown). Photo courtesy National Pork Board.


    Peanuts were introduced to Southeast Asia in the 16th century by Portuguese and Spanish merchants. The peanuts came from Mexico, and thrived in the tropical climate.

    They soon were turned into a sauce in Indonesian cuisine and other countries followed. Indonesian peanut sauces are considered to be the most sophisticated (layered with ingredients).


    Grilled chicken breasts marinated in peanut
    sauce and served with more sauce on the
    side. Photo courtesy Swanson’s.



    This recipe is courtesy Swanson, maker of both conventional and low-sodium broth and stock.


  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons soy sauce†
  • 1/3 cup plus 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or pepper flakes
  • 2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger root
  • 1/2 cup Swanson chicken broth or chicken stock†
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Garnish: chopped fresh cilantro leaves

    1. MAKE marinade. Stir 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoons peanut butter, the oil, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/3 cup lime juice, half the garlic and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili flakes in a shallow, nonmetallic dish or a gallon-size resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Cover the dish or seal the bag and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight. Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.

    2. LIGHTLY OIL the grill rack and heat the grill to medium. Grill the chicken for 15 minutes or until cooked through, turning the chicken over once halfway through the grilling time.

    3. MAKE the sauce. Stir together the remaining brown sugar, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, cayenne pepper, coconut milk and ginger root in a 3-quart saucepan. Cook and stir over medium heat for 15 minutes or until the mixture is thickened. Stir in the broth and heavy cream.

    4. SPRINKLE the chicken with cilantro and serve the sauce with the chicken.


    Here’s an alternative recipe for spicy peanut sauce. The sauce can be made a day ahead of time, and will keep 3 to 4 days in the fridge.

    Ingredients For 1-1/4 Cups

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth†
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce†
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon red curry paste*
  • 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped

    1. ADD all ingredients to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.
    *You can use low-sodium ingredients because the other ingredients add more than enough flavor. But if you have full-sodium products on hand, feel free to use them.

    †Find red curry paste in the Asian products section of your market.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Turkey Stock

    Turn your turkey carcass into turkey stock
    or turkey soup. Photo by Marius Zjbie |


    Years back, we were very friendly with the owner of New York City’s most famous delicatessen. Among other secrets, he told us that the restaurant’s chicken soup was actually turkey soup.

    Why? Because the kitchen roasted several turkeys every day for turkey sandwiches (including our favorite combo: turkey, roast beef and chopped liver). What to do with all the leftover carcasses? Make turkey soup, which was called chicken soup on the menu. No one could tell the difference.

    Why not just call it turkey soup? Because most customers aren’t accustomed to the concept of “turkey soup”; they want chicken soup. In industry terms, it wasn’t a bait-and-switch; most “pumpkin” pie is made with a different orange squash, among other secrets of the trade.

    You can make either turkey stock or turkey soup with your turkey carcass. We typically make stock, taking advantage of the opportunity to make a lot of it from the large carcass. After all, if you’re going to simmer bones for four hours, would you rather end up with one pint of stock or four pints?


    Stock Preparation

    1. REMOVE all the meat from the turkey carcass. It’s OK if small bits remain.

    2. BREAK up the bones of the carcass so they’ll fit in the pot. Place the bones and skin in a large stock pot and cover with cold water by an inch. You can the neck, heart and gizzard (but not the liver). Add a yellow onion that has been quartered, some chopped carrots, parsley, thyme, a bay leaf, celery tops, and some peppercorns.

    3. BRING to a boil and immediately reduce heat to a bare simmer—as low as you can make the flame.

    4. SIMMER for at least 4 hours, uncovered or partially uncovered (so the stock reduces). At intervals, skim off the foam that rises to the surface. You can reduce the stock as much as you like by continuing to simmer it, uncovered. The more reduced, the more concentrated the flavor (and the less there is to store).

    5. REMOVE the bones and and strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer.



    If you’d rather make soup than stock, add seasonings to the pot at the beginning of cooking:

  • Sliced carrots, celery (and the celery tops), yellow onion. How much should you add? It’s a matter of taste. We use a lot: The more vegetables, the more layering of flavors.
  • Herbs: we use lots of dill and parsley; other options include bay leaf and thyme; and 5-10 peppercorns.
  • Salt to taste. Start with 1 tablespoon; taste later in the process and adjust as needed.
    When ready to serve, warm pieces of leftover turkey in the soup and add noodles, rice, and any vegetables. We lightly steam carrots, celery and onions in the microwave; then add them to the soup along with the turkey, as we reheat it.


    Want more veggies in your soup? Steam them lightly in the microwave, Then add them to the soup when you reheat it. Photo courtesy Grandma’s Chicken Soup.



    Stock (as well as soup and broth) can be made from any meat or seafood, and from vegetables as well.

  • Stock is made from simmering the bones and connective tissue. It tends to have a fuller mouth feel and richer flavor, due to the gelatin/collagen* released by simmering the bones for several hours. Stock is not seasoned (e.g., no salt or vegetables); its purpose is to serve as a neutral base for soups and sauces that will in turn be seasoned. When it cools, stock is thick and gelatinous, a quality that makes it better than broth for deglazing a pan (it can be used instead of butter or cream to make sauce from the pan juices). Stock is also used for cooking grains and vegetables, for glazing, poaching, roasting and in recipes.
  • Soup is a finished dish made from meat (e.g., cooking raw chicken parts).
  • Broth is soup that is strained to remove all solids; some people serve seasoned stock as broth. Broth is not thickened, while soup can be. Classic French recipes often add a splash of wine.
    *The collagen gelatinizes at around 165°F.



    GIFT: Foie Gras Slices

    Foie gras, ready to go from freezer to plate
    in two minutes. Photo courtesy D’Artagnan.


    Here’s a luxurious gift for the foie gras lover: flash-frozen foie gras slices from D’Artagnan. They go from freezer to pan for a quick sear: There’s no need to thaw them. That’s our kind of fast food!

    Foie gras lovers can decide at the drop of a hat to indulge in some foie gras—and hopefully, they’ll invite you.

    Premium quality, Grade A foie gras lobes are laser cut into a perfect single-serving size, then are immediately frozen at extremely low temperatures. This high-tech process helps retains the texture and integrity of the delicate foie gras.

    The slices are ready to cook, without all the fuss and bother of cleaning and slicing a whole lobe of foie gras. They go from freezer to plate in two minutes.

    Talk about fast food!


    The shipment averages 4.6 pounds of foie fras (30 slices), $257.99. Get yours at



    RECIPE: Moroccan Turkey Rub

    Moroccan spices add zing to a turkey or
    chicken. Photo courtesy Spice Islands.


    Perhaps you’re not up for brining a turkey.

    Instead of garlic powder and pepper, expand your seasoning palette. This recipe from Spice Islands dishes up a Moroccan flair.

    The recipe is given for a 5-6 pound turkey breast; for a whole turkey, multiply the proportions accordingly.

    You can also use the recipe on a chicken or duck.



  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons cumin, ground
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 (5 to 6-pound) turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted


    1. COMBINE garlic, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, turmeric and sea salt in a small bowl. Mix well and reserve 1 teaspoon of seasoning.

    2. RUB remaining seasoning over turkey breast. Roast according to turkey breast package directions.

    3. COMBINE reserved seasoning with honey and butter; mix well. Brush over turkey last 30 minutes of baking time.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Flavored Turkey Brine

    You may be wedded to your preparation of the Thanksgiving turkey. But if you’d like to try something new this year, try brining with a flavored turkey brine.

    Brining is a culinary technique that is regaining popularity because it produces a more moist, juicy, tender and flavorful turkey. Brining locks in the natural moisture of the meat, while infusing mild flavors into it. It also reduces cooking time.

    Some people use a basic salt brine, but spice companies have developed brines infused with fruit, herbs and savory spice flavors. So go for it this year, and see how you like the transformation of your turkey into something more gourmet.

    Marinate time 10 to 16 hours, cook time 3 to 5 hours, rest time 20 to 30 minutes.




    Brine your turkey for more moisture and flavor. Photo courtesy Butterball.

  • 1 whole turkey (16 to 20 pounds), giblets removed, cleaned and patted dry
    For The Brine
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup hickory smoked salt
  • 2 tablespoons white pepper, ground
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom, ground
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seed
  • 1/2 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup vanilla extract
  • 1/2 gallon heavily iced water

    You can also buy a pre-mixed brine. Photo
    courtesy Spice Islands.


    Vanilla Bourbon Butter

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons Spice Islands Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tablespoons sweet bourbon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 green apple, halved
  • 1 yellow onion, halved
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1/2 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1 cinnamon sticks

    1. PREHEAT oven to 450°F. Place the first 8 ingredients of the brine in a large pot and simmer until the spices dissolve. Allow to cool completely. Pour the cooled stock mixture into a large container (bucket) and stir in vanilla and ice water. Completely submerge the turkey into the liquid, breast side down, and brine for 10 to 16 hours, refrigerated. While the turkey is in the brine…

    2. MAKE the vanilla bourbon butter. Place the ingredients into a bowl and whisk together until completely combined. Set aside.

    3. REMOVE the turkey from the brine when ready to roast, and pat dry. Stuff the cavity of the turkey with aromatics and rub the skin, both under and over, with the vanilla bourbon butter. Season the turkey with salt and pepper. Tie the legs together tightly, tuck the wings under the back, and transfer the bird to a roasting pan. Place the turkey into the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, allowing the skin to brown. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent burning.

    4. REDUCE the oven temperature to 350°F and continue to roast the turkey for 2-1/2 to 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes. 30 minutes before the turkey is ready to come out of the oven…

    5. REMOVE foil from the breast and continue to roast until an instant read thermometer reads 161°F. Remove the turkey from the oven, loosely covered with foil and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes before carving.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Try A Speck Of Speck Alto Aldige

    We’ll admit that we never heard of Italian foods like speck and lardo until about 12 years ago. We were introduced at Mario Batali’s restaurant Otto, in Greenwich Village (that’s otto, pronounced owe-toe, the number eight in Italian, the resto’s street address). Lunching with our fellow editor—two worldly eaters—we asked each other, “What is speck?” (The tantalizing answer is in the next section.)

    Speck has been mass produced for some time, but if you seek out the name-protected Speck Alto Aldige, you can take a bite of a ham that dates back to 1200 C.E. (although the modern word “speck” first appeared in the 18th century*), and is still made with time-honored techniques.

    The Italian region known as Alto Adige (also called Südtirol, South Tirol) is where Italy, Austria and Switzerland meet. A beautiful place to visit—picturesque villages, verdant fields and stunning views of the Dolomite mountains—it is home to one of the world’s finest smoked, cured hams, Speck Alto Adige, often called a “cousin of prosciutto.”

    Lightly infused with seasonings and smoke, Speck Alto Adige has a distinctive, natural taste, with balanced flavors and delicate aromas—bits of herbaceousness, smokiness and sweetness.


    Thick slices of speck. Pour a glass of red wine and enjoy! Photo by F.P. Wing | IST.


    Thinking back to our first experience, we asked around; only our wine editor had the correct answer. Since that day at Otto in 2001, we’d encountered speck on menus, often called “speck prosciutto and “Tirolean prosciutto.” No doubt the proper name, Speck Alto Aldige, would be more confusing. No wonder most people are confused (if not entirely ignorant). Another factor is that we didn’t grow up with authentic speck. It’s only in the last decade or so that it’s been imported into the U.S.

    True Speck Alto Aldige, IGP (Protected Geographical Indication, bestowed on products that can trace their roots to the 15th century) is a distinctive artisan product, a culinary delight, and something you should get to know. So what’s the difference between speck and prosciutto?

  • Prosciutto di Parma or Parma Ham, is made from the bone-in hind thigh of a pig, using only salt and air curing (dry cured). It is PDO, the European Union designation for Protected Domaine Of Origin, and can only be made the Parma, a city in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna that is also the home of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Fine PDO prosciutto also comes from San Daniele, in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, the most northwest part of Italy. The ham’s name derives from the Latin pro + exsuctus, which roughly means “to remove the moisture.”
  • Speck Alto Aldige is made from a deboned hind thigh using four ingredients: salt, an herb and spice blend, smoke and air curing. Because of the light smokiness, you can substitute it for [the more heavily smoked] bacon.
    For a true foodie experience, get some of each for a taste test. Use it as an occasion to open one of your finest Italian reds.

    The result of centuries-old, finely-honed proprietary production techniques and the unique terroir of the Alto Aldige/South Tirol, Speck Alto Adige can only be made in that region, with the old artisan techniques (more about them below).

    *In some English-speaking countries, “speck” refers to Italian Speck, a type of prosciutto, rather than German Speck, which is identical to the Italian lardo. The term “speck” took hold in the 18th century, replacing the older term “bachen,” a cognate of “bacon.” “Speck” is an English word meaning “fat” or “blubber,” which has been in use since the early 17th century. This word is also used in German, but in Germany it typically refers to pork fat with or without some meat in it.(Source: Wikipedia)


    Eat with a knife and fork, or make a very
    sophisticated ham sandwich with Fontina or
    Gruyère and dill pickle slices. Photo by
    Mumantai | Wikimedia.



    Hors d’Oeuvre & Starters

  • On a charcuterie plate
  • Atop a salad of bitter greens—arugula and watercress—and a balsamic vinaigrette
  • Cut into matchsticks or wider slices and served with toothpicks and a glass of red wine
  • Wrapped around melon slices or breadsticks

  • On a grilled panino/sandwich with cheese (Brie, Fontina, your favorite) and arugula, cress or radicchio (for a condiment, try salsa rosa, a mixture of of ketchup and mayonnaise
  • On pizza
  • In chicken dishes
  • In pasta and risotto (this season, serve pumpkin gnocchi with a gorgonzola cheese sauce and chopped speck)
  • In crêpes, omelets and quiches
  • Sides

  • With asparagus, polenta, potatoes, spinach and other greens (a favorite easy recipe: grill polenta slices, add cheese until it melts [Fontina, gorgonzola, gruyere, taleggio], top with chopped speck)
  • In brussels sprouts and cabbage dishes (substitute for bacon)
    Check out the speck recipes at


    To guarantee the quality and authenticity of Speck Alto Adige, the trade association Consorzio Tutela Speck Alto Adige and the independent control institute INEQ (Istituto Nord Est Qualità) verify compliance with the quality parameters throughout all phases of production. Inspectors may visit the production sites at any time to be sure controls are being met. Only those hams that meet the stringent production criteria are fire-branded with the Speck Alto Adige seal, as proof of their quality and authenticity.

  • Production begins with the selection of pig breeds with a strict fat/lean ratio lowers the cholesterol in speck, compared with other types of ham.
  • The finest, lean thighs (hams) are then seasoned flavored with the producer’s proprietary blend of aromatic herbs and spices, including salt, pepper, juniper, rosemary and laurel. They are dry-corned or cured for three weeks at controlled temperatures, and are turned periodically so the corning evenly permeates the meat. The final salt content must not exceed 5%.
  • The hams are then exposed alternately to smoking and drying. The smoking phase is light, done over low-resin wood to provide a pleasantly mild flavor.
  • Finally, the smoked hams are hung to dry in rooms infused by the clean, fresh air of the South Tyrolean mountain valleys. The aging period, based on the weight of the ham, lasts about 22 weeks. During this phase, the hams lose part of their initial weight and acquire their characteristically firm consistency.
    It’s a special food for a special occasion, and certainly will be a point of interest in entertaining.

    If you can’t find Speck Alto Aldige in a local specialty foods store or Italian market, you can buy it online. You can also get to know other types of speck. A cousin of the Italian original, La Quercia in Iowa makes a nice “American” speck, but it’s as distant a relation to Speck Alto Aldige as domestic Parmesan is from Parmigiano Reggiano.

    You can also find Black Forest Speck from Germany and Gailtaler Speck from Austria. Some Jewish delis sell a beef product called speck that is made from beef. Eliminate any confusion and try to find Speck Alto Aldige.

    As with anything, go for the best. Bargain brands usually represent bargain flavors; and when people tell us that they don’t like this or that, we suspect it’s because they’ve tried a lesser brand.



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