This comforting fall season recipe nourishes the soul, with Chef Manuel Morsiani. Full flavor Italian speck ham is a complex taste, perfect with acclaimed Chef’s creamy risotto recipe.
If you have good quality bacon at home, crisp it, set it aside and use it! Delicioso. Really for this glorious recipe, you are making a creamed risotto with a nice organic sugar pumpkin. Cooking fresh pumpkin is terrific this time of year. It’s great for youngsters to see the process of cleaning a real pumpkin, since so much of our culture has turned to canned puree. Nothing beats the taste fresh pumpkin. LOVE THIS!
Many Huckleberry Hill Fans (who ADORE Chef Manuel’s recipes) enjoy his authentic cuisine. So let’s take some time and review speck, as many American’s are familiar with prosciutto and not very familiar with speck ham.
Italian speck ham (sometimes thought as good quality ‘bacon’ in the states) is a flavor filled delight. It is a unique smoked, cured ham that is featured in Alto Adige’s cuisine. This Italian ham is a merging of Northern European and Mediterranean flavor. What makes speck unique is that it is lighter in flavor than a heavily smoked ham…it is heavier than the delicate prosciutto southern ham. Speck is the perfect texture and balance for an autumn pumpkin risotto dish!
What gives speck ham a unique quality?
After three weeks of dry curing, the hams are gently smoked, using low-resin wood at a carefully controlled low temperature, to ensure that the meat remains sweet and takes on a mildly smoky flavor to compliment the distinctive seasoning. The smoking is accomplished gradually, for a few hours at a time, over a period of several months. The theory is that a slow, gentle process allows the smoke to penetrate through the meat, whereas a more intense, faster smoking merely concentrates the outer layer.
The crisp Alpine air is considered another major factor in the flavor profile of speck. The aging process is conducted in ventilated rooms that quite literally allow the atmosphere of the region to circulate around the meat for nearly six months (helping to form the thin layer of whitish mold that mellows and balances the flavor).
Speck, bread and wine form a holy trinity that is the most basic of meals; you need only include a local cheese, pickles and a bit of fruit to round things out.
Beyond that, it is easy to incorporate speck into your fall meals. You can experiment with it in the same way you would prosciutto.
Does speck work well with this cream pumpkin sauce?
Crumbled speck, crisped in a pan, with a bit of cream and some fresh herbs makes a delightful sauce for pasta or fresh asparagus. Scatter some arugula, sliced, boiled potatoes, thinly sliced, fresh radishes, chopped hard-boiled egg, and curly shavings of Grana Padano over a platter of sliced speck and dress it all with olive oil for a Tyrolean salad. Or, try some speck in a frittata with sautéed shallots, wild mushrooms and Asiago.
You can find speck in most Italian shops. For authentic quality be sure to make sure it is the authentic speck imported from Alto Adige region!
-Chef’s Manuel Morsiani’s Recipe-
-Autumn Risotto: Pumpkin Cream, with Taleggio and Crispy Speck-
400 (4 cups) grams of Acquarello or carnaroli rice
550 (5 cups) grams of Pumpkin, peeled and cored
125 ( 1 1/3 cups) grams of Taleggio
70 (2/3 cup) grams of Speck (ham), sliced
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon of rosemary, fresh
2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 teaspoon of curry powder
70 (2/3 cup) grams of Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
1.2 (5 cups) liters of vegetable stock
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of sea salt
Begin by cubing the pumpkin and slicing the onions. Puree some of the pumpkin in a mixer with the rosemary until the latter breaks down completely, then set aside.
Cut the speck into strips and crisp it in a hot pan, without oil, for a couple of minutes. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Brown the garlic in a pan with two tablespoons of olive oil, remove it, then add the pumpkin cubes and pumpkin-rosemary cream; add the onions, paprika, and curry powder, and season with salt. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until it turns very soft, almost creamy.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar and let the flavors amalgamate for a couple of minutes. Add the rice and stir well. Add the vegetable broth (or water) one ladle at a time, stirring all the while.
Let the risotto cook for about 15 minutes or according to the instructions on the rice package. Right before turning off the heat, add the taleggio cubes and the grated Parmigiano Reggiano. Allow the risotto to cream for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add the crisped speck and serve.
-Acclaimed Chef Morsiani-
Manuel has become a dear friend, he is an expert in Sicilian Cuisine and a strong supporter of Huckleberry Hill Adventure, LLC’s focus on ‘Italian Influence and California living’! Follow Chef Morsiani on his culinary adventures. He will visit California and share in our wonderful fresh California products.
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Continue finding inner joy this season, read the Autumn Happiness featured article.
Huckleberry Hugs, from the majestic Pacific Coast of California. Maxine (AKA “Molly”)