AskDefine | Define speck

Dictionary Definition



1 a very small spot; "the plane was just a speck in the sky" [syn: pinpoint]
2 (nontechnical usage) a tiny piece of anything [syn: atom, molecule, particle, corpuscle, mote]
3 a slight but appreciable addition; "this dish could use a touch of garlic" [syn: touch, hint, tinge, mite, pinch, jot, soupcon] v : produce specks in or on; "speck the cloth"

User Contributed Dictionary

see Speck



  • /spek/


  1. A tiny spot, especially of dirt etc.


Extensive Definition

Speck is a distinctively juniper-flavored prosciutto originally from the province of Bolzano-Bozen (Alto Adige or Südtirol). Speck's origins at the intersection of two culinary worlds is reflected in its synthesis of Italian salt-curing and central European smoking.
The first historical mention of Speck dell'Alto Adige was in the early 1300s when some of the current production techniques were already in use. "Speck dell'Alto Adige (Südtiroler Speck)" is now a protected geographic designation with PGI status.
In the English-speaking culinary world, the term "speck" refers to Italian speck, a type of prosciutto, rather than German speck, which is identical to the Italian "lardo". The term "speck" became part of popular parlance only in the eighteenth century and replaced the older term "bachen", a cognate of "bacon".
Other varieties with geographical indications include:
  • Gailtaler Speck from Austria, with PGI status, which has been made since the 15th century in Gailtal in Kärnten.
  • Tiroler Speck from Austria's Tyrol region, has PGI status, and has been made since at least the 15th century.


Like prosciutto and other hams, speck is made from the hind leg of the pig, but, unlike other prosciutti, speck is boned before curing.
A leg of pork is deboned and divided into large sections called "baffe", and then cured in salt and various spice combination which may include garlic, bay leaves, juniper berries, nutmeg and other spices, and then rested for a period of several weeks. After this the smoking process begins.
Speck is cold-smoked slowly and intermittently for two or three hours a day for a period of roughly a week using woods such as beech at temperatures that never exceed 20°C (68°F).
The speck is then matured for five months.


Speck is ubiquitous in the local cuisine of the province of Bolzano-Bozen, and is also found in the Austrian, Czech, Dutch, German, Italian and Slovak cuisines.
Like other salumi, speck is often served in paper thin slices which, like prosciutto, can be draped over sugary fruits like melon, pears and figs. Tissue-thin slices of speck can also be served with horseradish, pickles and dark rye bread studded with raisins and nuts, a more Austrian-influenced presentation.
Typically appearing in pastas, in risotto, on pizzas, and alongside hearty whole-grain breads, speck can also be seen in the company of shellfish, sometimes wrapped around scallops or rolled about breadsticks and served with lobster salad. Speck can be cut into thick strips and added to pasta sauces or any dish beginning with a soffritto of olive oil and chopped vegetables. In dishes like risotto, the extremely strong flavour of speck can usually be cut with light flavours such as parsley, lemon, mint, etc. In salads, speck pairs well with apples, sprouts, mushrooms, and hearts of celery.
Speck can easily replace bacon or as a smoky alternative to Pancetta. The differences between speck and bacon include different time lengths of smoking, the technique of curing it, and the fact that speck cures for a longer period of time than bacon does.
speck in German: Speck
speck in Italian: Speck
speck in Portuguese: Speck

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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