Note: I was sent a sample of Speck Alto Adige PGI in order to write this post. All opinions are mine alone. #sponsored
During the winter, I cannot get enough comfort food recipes. To me, Italian food is the ultimate comfort food — usually quite simple to make, with a few high quality ingredients that make the meal good enough to share with company.
I wanted to highlight an ingredient that you may not have heard about before: Speck Alto Adige PGI. From the Alto Adige region of Italy, Speck Alto Adige PGI is ham that has been air cured and lightly smoked. It can be used in recipes that call for bacon or prosciutto, and add a nice smoky, herby flavor to the dish. When buying, look for the PGI certification. The PGI certification of Speck Alto Adige means “protected geographical indication” and ensures that you are buying an authentic product made in its area of origin under strict guidelines.
To highlight the uncommon but delicious flavor of Speck Alto Adige PGI, I decided to make a speck and anchovy pasta topped with garlic breadcrumbs.
This recipe is based off an Epicurious recipe and delivers great flavor without a lot of effort. It just so happens to mostly use ingredients that I tend to have around my house, so that was a nice perk too!
- 8 garlic cloves, divided
- 2 cups of day old bread, cut into 1 inch pieces
- the zest of 1 lemon
- salt and pepper
- 1 half cup olive oil, divided
- 4 oz cubed speck
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- the juice of 1 lemon
- 1 (16 oz) box linguine
- 2 oz freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heat a large pot of water over high heat. When boiling, season liberally with salt. Add in the pasta and cook until very al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package directions for al dente (for the pasta I used, that meant I cooked mine for 7 minutes).
While the water comes to a boil, very thinly slice 4 of your garlic cloves and set aside.
Add your remaining 4 garlic cloves to a food processor and process until finely chopped. Add in the bread and zest and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil followed by the Speck Alto Adige PGI and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the Speck Alto Adige PGI to a small bowl and set aside.
Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to the Speck Alto Adige PGI drippings and let warm. Add in the breadcrumb mixture, stirring often, until golden brown and crispy, about 5 minutes.Transfer the breadcrumb mixture to another small bowl.
Add another 3 tablespoons olive oil to the pot and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add the sliced garlic cloves, stirring occasionally, until golden around the edges, about 1 minute.
Add the anchovy paste and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring, until the anchovies are dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice.
When the pasta is ready, transfer the pasta to the pot with the garlic and anchovies using tongs. Add in about 1 cup of the pasta water.
Cook, tossing often, for about 2 minutes. Add in another 3 tablespoons of the pasta water, then begin to gradually add in the cheese, tossing the pasta until the cheese melts and emulsifies into the sauce. If available, use freshly grated cheese so that it doesn’t clump in the sauce.
Remove from heat. Add in the parsley, butter, cooked Speck Alto Adige PGI, and half of the breadcrumb mixture. Toss until combined and the butter has fully melted. If the pasta seems dry, add a bit more pasta water and oil and toss again. Season with pepper.
Divide the mixture among 4 pasta bowls. Top with the remaining breadcrumb mixture.
The seasoning of the Speck Alto Adige PGI adds so much flavor to this dish! The sauce is nice and glossy and perfectly coats the pasta. If you prefer a little less heat in your dishes, I suggest halving the crushed red pepper (although the subtle heat at the end of each bite is really fantastic!) The garlic breadcrumbs add nice texture to the dish as well.
The flavor Speck Alto Adige PGI would be a great addition to a charteuterie platter, with the Speck Alto Adige PGI thinly sliced like prosciutto, or chopped and substituted in as a more flavorful bacon in a breakfast dish. The options are endless!