Main Ingredient - Speck
If you’re looking for something to punch up a cheese board or to add a little sophistication to a weeknight meal, give speck a try. In terms of cured meats, speck is similar to prosciutto — that is if prosciutto had a dashing, well-read cousin visiting for the summer.
Even just a sliver of this ham will deliver a huge amount of spicy, smoky flavor. All ham comes from pigs’ legs, but differs in the way it’s cooked, cured, spiced, or smoked. Speck is the product of a boned leg, rubbed in a spice mix such as juniper, pepper, and bay leaves, which is then salt cured. The final step is a smoking and aging process.
This savory meat is not as easy to find as the more popular types of ham, but in the last 10 years it’s gained popularity in the U.S. Local butcher shops are usually a safer bet for finding obscure cuts of meat. (I purchased my speck at Butcher Block No. 9 in Anchorage.)
Speck can be sliced and eaten on its own, just like prosciutto. It can also be used in place of bacon in some recipes because it delivers the smokiness without the rendered fat. This is part of what makes speck an excellent ingredient to add to a quiche.
I am a sucker for a good quiche, but sometimes I can’t muster the effort to make a crust during the week. Thank goodness for Mark Bittman, whose basic recipe for crustless ‘quiche’ has saved me time and stress over the years. As long as you keep the ratio of 1 egg to 1/3 cup cream, the flavor combinations are pretty much endless.
Here are some of my recent favorites and suggestions:
|Meat||Cheese||Vegetables||Herbs + Spices|
|Speck||Pecorino Romano||Caramelized Onions||Flowering Oregano + Thyme|
|Smoked Salmon||Mozzarella||Roasted Tomatoes||Rosemary|
|-||Gruyere||Caramelized Onions + Mushrooms||Thyme|
I mix the grated cheese, herbs and spices into the egg and cream mixture, then pour it over the meat and vegetables I’ve layered into whatever dish I’m baking my “quiche” in. The end result is part quiche, part frittata, and wholly delicious.