Shea Robinson is managing partner and chef at Miijidaa Cafe…
In Germany and northern Italy, there is a style of bacon called speck which in the latter country somewhat resembles our bacon.
Traditionally, however, Italian speck, a protected product of the Alto Adige region, is made from pork leg rather than belly. Speck is often salted and seasoned with black pepper, garlic and perhaps juniper berries and cured for at least a month. It might be then cold smoked and set down for a further few months of aging.
The best speck, it is said, is one that is smoked very, very slowly over several months to ensure depth of smokey flavour. It is served thick-sliced like bacon or thinly sliced like prosciutto or jamón Ibérico.
Another use of speck is in the Germanic-sounding, yet Italian, dish lo speck: pork smoked to seven-eighths done and then boiled with potatoes, carrots and sauerkraut. To make it even heavier, it might be served with chnolle, a cornmeal gnocchi cooked in consommé. Bizarrely northern Italian.
Things are less bizarre at Charles BBQ, part of the Charles Quality Meats family at the St. Jacobs Market: you can get a Speck ‘n’ Egger breakfast sandwich which is lightly spiced, gently garlicky and simply delicious. It goes great with a morning coffee and is served throughout their hours of opening.[Top image: thinly sliced speck via Wikimedia Commons]
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