5 Speck-tacular Ways to Serve Cured Ham

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:

Photo by: Photographer:Marek walica

Photographer:Marek walica

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, close up

Hot fried eggs in a pan

Hot fried eggs in a pan, close up

Hot fried eggs in a pan, close up

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

Photo by: Marzia Giacobbe

Marzia Giacobbe

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

Bottle pouring virgin olive oil in a bowl close up

Olive oil

Bottle pouring virgin olive oil in a bowl close up

Photo by: Dusan Zidar/Getty Images

Dusan Zidar/Getty Images

Bottle pouring virgin olive oil in a bowl close up

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.

Next Up

5 Noodle Kugel Recipes to Serve This Yom Kippur

This comforting dish is a memorable holiday tradition.

5 Easter Mains That Aren't Ham

Say hello to new holiday traditions.

5 Delicious Ways to Use Paneer

Whether you buy it or make it at home, it’s great in everything from cakes to curries.

Every Way to Eat Ham This Easter

Think shortcuts, sheet pans and yes, the Instant Pot.

5 Best Single-Serve Coffeemakers, According to Food Network Kitchen

We love the convenience of a coffeemaker that brews a single portion directly into a mug in just a couple of minutes. No measuring, no waiting, no pouring, no waste — just grab and go.

5 Ways to Do Turkey Burgers Right

Check out Food Network’s top five turkey burger recipes, each with a different tasty twist and all go-to main dishes for your weekend cookout spread.

5 New Ways to Bake with Carrots

Start grating carrots for comforting desserts that take the whole carrot cake idea and run with it.