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Pizza with Dry-Cured Smoked Ham (Speck)

Pizza with Dry-Cured Smoked Ham (Speck)

 

I stopped in down the street at Browne Trading the other day to pick up some housegifts (I chose 4-ounce cryopacs of the cold-smoked Scottish salmon Browne produces in partnership with Daniel Boulud -- a perfect gift, in my view) and of course spent a few minutes browsing in their cases and shelves for interesting ingredients for my own kitchen. A healthy chunk of Speck Alto Adige  -- a product that until recently wasn't authorized for import into the U.S. -- caught my eye and subsequently left with me. This pizza is the first chance I've had to use it.

SpeckSpeck production is an 800-year-old tradition in Bolzono, the German-speaking Italian town in the Süd Tirol region (Alto Adige in Italian) in the southern Alps, and a glorious product it is. The website Italianmade.com says "the term speck became part of popular parlance only in the eighteenth century and replaced the older term bachen, a relative of bacon. Speck is a pork product made from a boned ham that is moderately salted and seasoned, cold-smoked and then well aged according to local practices and traditions. The exterior of a slab of speck is brown, while the inside is red with whitish-pink areas. Speck has a strong smoky and zesty scent. During the salting process, the meat is flavoured with black pepper, pimento, garlic and juniper berry which lend it a distinctive and savoury taste." More information about speck is found at www.speck.it, the site of the Süditiroler Consortium which protects and controls the production and marketing of genuine speck.

All that history and marketing talk aside, speck is a wonderful addition to all sorts of dishes, bringing a more refined taste than pancetta, a little more robust flavor than proscuitto, and a slightly firmer and finer-grained texture than Virginia ham, so having this chunk in my refrigerator (wrapped in a cloth) makes me very happy. This pizza, for example -- ordinary in all other respects, with its tomato, garlic, olive oil, basil, mozzarella and parm -- becomes special with the addition of the speck.

Dry-Cured Smoked Ham (Speck) Pizza

1/2 recipe pizza dough
5 roma tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut vertically in crescents
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
12 leaves fresh basil, chopped or torn
10 or 12 paper thin sliced speck, cut in 1 to 1-1/2" pieces*
1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
3 oz smoked mozzarella, shredded
2 oz Parmigiano Reggiano, shredded
hot sauce to taste

Mix the tomatoes, garlic and olive oil with about two-thirds of the basil. Season to taste with hot sauce (the speck and parmesan bring a good bit of salt to the finished pizza so if you want to use some be cautious).

When the pizza shell has completed the second rising, spread the tomato mixture over it, leaving a 2" border of uncovered crust around the edge if you like. Scatter on the red onion rings and bake in on a well-preheated stone in a 450º oven for 10 minutes.

Spread on the cheeses, leaving a border of tomatoes visible around the edges, and then the ham. Lower the oven temperature to 400º and bake another 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. Scatter on the remaining basil, brush edges with a little olive oil, slice and serve.
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*Paper thin slices -- if you don't have a meat slicer (as I don't) you can achieve a nice thin slice by using a long,  straight knife with a flexible blade, well-sharpened, and doing your slicing when the meat is very cold.

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Comments

Stephen,
I've wanted to try speck for ages. I'll have to start watching for it.

Stephen,
I didn't know you couldn't have Speck in the USA until shortly! You have to catch up! But do not put your speck in the freezer, it will ruin the taste. After opening it keeps very well in the fridge for many weeks, best wrapped with a cloth and not alu-wrap. I hope you enjoy your speck!
PS: Bolzano is the town and Süd Tirol (or alto adige in Italian, it is an officially bilingual region)the region.

Thanks for the info, Hande! I made the corrections in the post...

Speck was only approved for import into the U.S. in late 2004 -- the U S Department of Agriculture is especially queasy about imported pork products...the Süditiroler Consortium had to mount a campaign and perform tests, etc., to achieve the approval...

It's a question of when I'm going to try that no "if" YUM!

If you post one more incredibly moutwatering pizza I swear I'm going to report you to the Food Blog Police. This is getting absolutely ridiculous.

I bet anyone who's watched "Pee Wee's Big Adventure" a hundred times can see the word "Speck" and not think of a little spotted dog.

: D

Mmmm, speck. I have carted quite a few of these back form Germany to London in my suitcase... It is always amazing to me how different the exterior and interior of the meat are. And how long it can keep in the fridge! I love it in pasta sauces or on its own as part of an antipasti platter - and the speck pizza at Strada is one of my favourites!

The pizza looks great!

great photos on this blog, I'm hungry even though I just ate!

I live in Sicily and speck is a popular addition to pizza even all the way down here. Actually last night I had some bruschetta that had some speck, artichoke hearts, and cheese on it. Yum!

Am I to assume that Speck Ham is okay to eat without additional cooking. or should one use it only in dishes that are to be cooked.

Hi Travis...good question! Like its cousin proscuitto, speck can be eaten without further cooking -- unlike bacon and pancetta, which are often compared to speck but which must be cooked before consumption...(In general, to be accepted for import into the US, cured pork products must be safe to eat without further cooking.)

Thanks for your interest in Stephencooks.com!

I bought my first speck ham last week and have been eating it like proscuitto with melon etc.

Today I cooked it in a skillet like bacon. Wow, I have a new love. It is splatter free and leaves very little residue behind on the skillet. Cooking it brings the flavors out. Very structures from front to back. The full flavor, the smoke and the sweet finish. My mind is now working overtime as to how many ways I can use it. I bought 1+ lb sliced thin. Next time I will have 2/3 sliced and save a chunk for a 100 other uses.

Thnaks for all your input and comments.

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