About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Can you pick the speck?

Easy, isn't it.

Look again, there are two lots of speck on the platter. If you picked the pickled mushrooms or fermented cucumbers, hang your head in shame!

Any self respecting German would point excitedly at the pure white fat slices at the bottom and exclaim, "That is the real stuff", while an Austrian would remonstrate with him that the only true speck was at the top.

Both would be right...and wrong - for each are indigenous to their respective countries and have the right to be called speck.

The German version is pure pork fat, called lardo in Italy; it's salted and cured, sometimes cold smoked, whilst the Austrian speck is more easily explained as a deboned prosciutto that has been slowly cold smoked.

German speck can be eaten thinly sliced, just as it is, though your cardiologist might be a tad nervous. It has the same silken unctuousness of good smoked salmon, but also finds its way into many of the local dishes as the fat of choice.

It would be easy to mistake Austrian speck as good quality prosciutto, but the gentle smoking makes it presence subtly felt and the meat seems to retain a bit more moisture. Whilst it is superb eaten as is with some crusty bread, it also brings a special flavour to cooked dishes.

I really recommend trying the Austrian speck if you can get your hands on some, it's sometimes known as raw smoked ham. In Melbourne, it's available from Malvern Continental Butcher & Delicatessen, 79 Glenferrie Road, Malvern, or you could try your local Continental delicatessen.
  posted at 8:08 pm

At 7:29 pm, Anonymous kitchen hand said...

I could have placed some of that, instead of the common bacon I used, in the cheesy pasta dish I just cooked for a German/Austrian flavour; but you would probably say it would have been wasted.

At 9:03 pm, Blogger neil said...

That reminds me of some people who buy the best wines, put them in their cellar and never drink them because they are too special.

I've cooked with the Austrian speck, a very simple and tasty dish of borlotti beans, speck and wine. It was this dish that caused me to discover there were different specks. By all means, pop some in your cheesy pasta.

I've never used German speck in cooking only because we always have some lard to hand, but it does taste very good.

At 3:54 pm, Blogger Thermomixer said...

Thanks for the lesson. Does the german speck have similar spices to the Lardo di Colonatta or just salt?

Have to get back over to Malvern - need to order a ham too for Christmas

At 8:06 pm, Anonymous Astrid said...

Being an Austrian myself I would not agree with your description.
We Austrians do call "speck" what you describe as lardo. the above would be called "Geselchtes" which basically means smoked ham but by no means "Speck" I am sorry!
At least the part I come from and live in here in Austria does so! (and I do not even live close to the German borders...

Both do taste great tho! :)
Best regards!

At 10:11 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi thermomixer, as far as I know there is nothing like that where I shop, sounds awesome, can you get it here? The only spiced speck I've seen is paprika speck at Gruners Butcher in St Kilda.

May I suggest a trip to Uncles Smallgoods, 313 Centre Road, East Bentleigh, they have several great Polish hams.

Hi Astrid, thanks for the info, the whole area is a real minefield, check out the discussion page on speck at Wikipedia to see what I mean.

As far as I can tell, geseltchtes is a smoked and cooked pork loin, whereas speck or as it is otherwise known, Tyroler speck (in Austria, but just speck in Italy), is a raw smoked leg of pork, small but important differences.

Life would be so easy if all these different pork products had their own single name, wouldn't it.

At 7:52 pm, Anonymous Elliot said...

Many years ago I spent a winter in Innsbruck, in the heart of the Tyrrol. There I often chewed through lumps of speck which looked exactly like your pic of German speck!

At 11:03 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi elliot, I'm sending you some lipitor immediately!

At 8:56 am, Blogger Thermomixer said...

Hi Neil

The best Australian lardo that I have seen has seen comes from Sydney. Chui Lee Luk from Claudes had some and there are butchers in Sydney sucha s Quattro Stelle and Vics Meats (Victor Churchill) who have it.

A pic that I found is at http://www.notquitenigella.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/a-victorchurchill22.jpg

At 1:02 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I eat the German type by the kilo every week with a good beer and a nice bread. Nothing better.

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