Speck Speck is a type of bacon originally from Tyrol. It is made from the meat around the belly and loin of a pig, which may be smoked or dried and seasoned with pepper and other spices.
It is known in English as 'speck' when it is German-made and smoked, or Italian-made and cured, but in either case, the meat must be from a pig. When it is served uncooked and unsmoked, it may also be referred to simply as "lardo" (Italian lard), particularly in Southern Italy, where it is much loved.
Speck has been produced for at least 700 years in Tyrol's South Tyrolean Unterland, Salzburg, and Franconia, Germany. It is not to be confused with Speck Alto Adige PGI which is produced mainly in Bolzano/Bozen, South Tyrol. After being well soaked and salted in brine, the raw meat is partially dried, seasoned with pepper and other spices such as juniper berries, garlic, or cloves. It is then cured for a few days to several months.
It is not usually cooked, but eaten raw and thinly sliced. Tyrolean speck (Tyrolean ham) is a specifically protected designation of origin product from Austria and Germany with PGI status, though the term "Speck" may be used in all German-speaking countries to refer to any belly and loin bacon. Speck is salt-cured for two weeks or longer; freshly cut speck is dry salted for another week and hung in a ventilated area to dry. There are different varieties:
One of the best-known types is Tyrolean speck from Austria and Germany which has PGI status. In Germany, speck from Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria as well as Hungary is also available as an "Aufschnitt" or ready sliced cold meat product in delicatessens and supermarkets.
In Italy, the words pancetta ("belly"), coppa ("neck"), and lardo ("backfat") are used to refer to different types of cured pork products, including speck. In Italy, lardo is a generic term for both the fatty belly and back-produced speck for more than 300cuts of pork, which is cured with salt and spices.
The distinction between speck and Italian lardo has similarities with the difference between uncooked bacon and raw ham in the United States. Speck is generally sliced thinner than raw ham, which allows it to be used as an ingredient in various menu items such as pizzas, where raw ham would be difficult to digest.
Germany's largest speck producers are Tyrollean farmers who have been producing speck for centuries. The 'Kamptal'-region around the town of Langenlois is a center of production, with more than 100 small producers. In Austria, a distinction between "Bauernspeck" (farmers' Speck) and "Waldspeck" (forest Speck) is observed. Bauernspeck is made from the fat part of the pig, while Waldspeck contains both the fat and the meat.
Global speck production
According to the World Trade Organization, global production of speck meat was valued at $17.2 billion in 2016. The top five producers of speck meat are China, the European Union, Brazil, the United States, and Canada. Together, these five countries account for over 70% of global production.
Speck meat is a popular ingredient in many dishes around the world. It is often used as a filling for ravioli or lasagna, or as a topping on pizzas and salads. In China, speck meat is often stir-fried with vegetables. In the United States, it is commonly used in spaghetti sauce and chili.
Speck meat is a good source of protein and other nutrients. It is high in iron and zinc, and a 3-ounce serving of speck meat contains about 25% of the Daily Value for these minerals. Speck meat is also a good source of vitamin B12, niacin, and phosphorus.