5 Speck-tacular Ways to Serve Cured Ham

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Photo by Angela Carlos

The Season 3 Chopped Teen Tournament kicked off Tuesday, as the first four young chefs competed to secure a spot in the grand finale, where the finalists will face off for the $25,000 prize. Don’t let their ages fool you; these teens trained like athletes for the show, arriving prepared with the tools and professional know-how to meet the rigorous demands of each mystery basket challenge.

In the appetizer round, speck was plucked from the mystery baskets and really took center stage in each of the four contestants’ dishes. You may be more familiar with the term “prosciutto” for the popular Italian charcuterie. Speck, however, is a specific variation from Italy’s northern-most Italian region, Alto Adige.

Only one of the contestants, 17-year-old Jared, used the speck in an Italian-style dish. For his speck rollatini, he swapped traditional eggplant for the salty meat. Other contestants served their speck crisped like bacon for crunch, adding it to a salad, crostini and an appetizer-portioned taco, proving this simple ingredient is good for more than just a killer antipasto platter.

What else can you do with this outstanding lightly smoked ham? Let us count five of our favorite ways:

Pair it with pickles: Tangy pickles add just the right amount of tangy vinegar flavor to the slowly cured ham.

Hot fried eggs in a pan

Upgrade your eggs: Dare we say this combination is better than bacon? Crisp pieces of prosciutto, like the Chopped Teen Tournament contestants did, and serve them alongside eggs, or dice it and add it to your morning frittata.

Traditional italian carbonara pasta

Toss it with pasta: Use speck to quickly add a delightful hint of smokiness to creamy pasta sauces.

Olive oil

Dress it with olive oil: Very little needs to be done to a quality ingredient. Serve your relatively lean speck with some extra virgin olive oil to bring out its exquisite flavors. Top it with some shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano for an elegant appetizer.

Serve it with citrus: Sweet, sour citrus added to salty, smoky ham seems like a winning combination to us. Add some bitter greens and a simple balsamic vinaigrette for a refreshing first course.