Tag: South

Speck: the smoky taste of South Tyrol – Italian Cuisine

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There are products intimately linked to the territory and to the population that inhabits it, born of ancient traditions that still survive today, almost unchanged. The South Tyrolean speck is one of these products. It is easy to define it: speck is a boneless, spicy, smoked and seasoned pork leg. However, each of these steps must be performed in a workmanlike manner so that the mark of the sausage can be stamped on the meat Protection Consortium which, for over twenty years, identifies it as Speck dell'Alto Adige Igp.

An ancient history
Like many typical products, speck comes from the need to be able to consume a food, in this case pork, even months after slaughtering the animal. The technique originates in the farms of Dolomiti: small self-sufficient microcosms where the farmers cultivated and raised all that was necessary for their livelihood. Next to cows and chickens, pigs were never missing, animals that were not expensive to maintain and of which, as is well known, every part can be exploited. Salting, spicing and smoking were the easiest way to keep the cuts for a long time, especially the prized part of the leg. Thus, each family had its own recipe and its secret ingredients. The extra touch was given by the surrounding environment, the fresh alpine air, the microclimate that was created in the cellars and, not least, the woods collected in the woods, in particular those of Beech tree, little resinous and ideal for obtaining a delicate smoke, but effective for conservation.

A modern product
Even today, the inhabitants of the valleys often slaughter their animals and produce their meats in a traditional way (not only bacon, but also other cuts, such as belly and back). They are joined by the industrial sausage factories that still maintain i traditional procedures, only updated with the help of modern technologies. Faithful to the dictates of the Consortium, they produce for local and national markets, but also for foreign ones (especially Austria and Germany). A visit to one of these establishments, such as the one in Soprabolzano (BZ) which is part of the group Citterio (here we work the classic Tagliofresco and the Speck Bio), confirms that the production process does not differ much from what the farmers of these areas did 100 or more years ago.

177315The basic rules
The selection of the raw material is fundamental. To respect the criteria of the Consortium, open and boneless pork legs, which are called "baffe", must respect precise values ​​concerning thepig breeding, the ratio between fat and lean, even the pH of the meat (which, if too high, would compromise drying). Once trimmed according to a traditional technique, the thighs come salted and corned using a "tanning" that can vary from one producer to another but generally includes pepper, laurel, juniper, coriander, rosemary, garlic and other aromas such as pimento (also called peppercorn or Jamaica pepper) and marjoram.

After a first rest (it takes even 3 weeks for the tanning to penetrate well into the meat), and a second passage of a few weeks in special refrigerated rooms, it is time forcold smoking, 5 days during which the smoke of beech wood, which never exceeds 20 °, aromatizes and contributes to the preservation process. Finally, it's time for seasoning which, according to the initial weight of the baffe, can last from 18-20 weeks up to over 30. In this phase, a natural layer of mold is formed on the outside of the speck that rounds off the taste and is removed at the end of the seasoning.

On the table and in the kitchen
The cycle is complete: the speck is ready to be sold whole, in slices or in slices. In the case of slices, the typical cut is the counter-fiber one that allows to obtain slices with a right amount of fat, which is essential to balance and sweeten the flavor of the salami. Thus presented, it is the protagonist of the typical South Tyrolean snack with Schuttelbrot (low and crunchy rye bread) and red wine, while the classic slices, cut in the sense of the fiber, make up cutting boards with valerian, pickles, black bread and horseradish sauce.

The cubes are inevitable in the dough of the dumplings, the large spherical bread dumplings with chives and parsley that can be enjoyed in broth or simply seasoned with butter and sage. Lastly, strips and matches are perfect in barley soups and risottos: whether combined with the sautéed or added at the end of cooking, cut very finely, so that the fat melts in contact with the heat of the dish and the speck releases all its scents, remaining soft. As tradition wants.

Francesca Romana Mezzadri
July 2019

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Run The Mix, the best Italian bartender team comes from the South – Italian Cuisine


Here are the winners of the team competition promoted by Pernod Ricard to enhance Italian mixology

The gold medal for the best Italian bartender team flies to the South. It ended in fact with the victory of the Southern Runners led by Matteo Bonandrini and Alexander Frezza the first edition of Run The Mix, the competition for talent of the tricolor mixology proposed by Pernod Ricard. That yes, he wanted to evaluate creativity in creating new cocktails and the ability to prepare them, but also the ability to present everything in an appealing way, to respect service times and establish an immediate and effective relationship with the customer.

The rules

The spaces of IT, in that of Milan, hosted the three finalist teams, divided by geographical origin. Nordic Runners, Middle Runners Southern Runners, coming respectively from North, Central and South Italy, found themselves having to propose a sequence of cocktails designed ad hoc for the challenge, served in combination with special dishes that have highlighted the possibilities in terms of food pairing. Everything was then presented to a jury of experts, who assessed the teams' performance by adopting peculiar points of view: Francesco Cione Bar Manager of the Octavius ​​in Milan evaluated the technique; Marco Sacco, starred chef owner of the Piccolo Lago di Verbania, the ability to surprise, enhance and entertain through food pairing; Lucia Stragapede, founder of Pastichéri, the ability of to sell and customer loyalty; Nelum Francesca Caramini and Gabriele Litta, drink stylist owners of Fluffer Studio, the beauty of the presentation and the harmony between aesthetics and taste; Alberto Vaccaro, coach certified by the World Association of Business Coaches, empathy with the client and the ability to relate.

The Civetta cocktail.

The winners

The three drinks presented by the Southern Runners to the jury somehow wanted to retrace the phases of every man's life: youth, adolescence and maturity. hummingbird, the first of the proposed cocktails, played on the union of citrus, cocoa and vodka scents Absolut Elyx. On the other hand, the suggestions in the glass of Punk, where the banana met the notes of Tequila Altos. The drink christened Owland finally concluded the service with the complexity – and therefore maturity – of whiskey Jameson Black Barrel. Riccardo Russo and Ugo Acampora from Naples, Giuseppe Milillo from Giovinazzo and the two under 30s Luigi Rosario Grasso from Catania and Giovanni Maffeo from Lecce, together with captains Matteo Bonandrini and Alexander Frezza, have thus won the honor of winning this first edition of Run The Mix. For them also a trip to London to discover the Beefeater world and the most renowned places of British mixology. The perfection of the simplicity of food pairing, the elegance of the presentation and the balance in the garnish, the opening towards the customer and the strong cohesion of ideas, styles and knowledge have led the team of the South to triumph over those of the North and of the Center, second and third place respectively.

Summer trends

"I am convinced that what my team has been able to propose fully reflects the current trends in our sector", he underlines Matteo Bonandrini, captain of the Southern Runners and bartender of the Mak Mixology of Palermo. «The search for the best quality ingredients, of course, but also a substantial reduction in alcohol content, in favor of aromas and flavors that wink at distant lands. It is no coincidence that among the most popular distillates of the season there is undoubtedly tequila, a precious product ready to be finally valued properly, which inevitably brings with it a load of tropical scents perfect for the summer ".

South Tyrol to taste! – Salt and pepper – Italian Cuisine

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Quality mark

South Tyrol? A wunderkammer natural unrollingto among the tumultuous courses of the Adige and the Isarco, between the Dolomites and the Natural Parks where nature has unleashed all its imagination to create an inimitable terroir. It is here that unique natural products are born, such as speck, apples, cheeses, marked "Alto Adige" and awarded from the European Union of the IGP mark (Protected Geographical Indication). Ready to become protagonists of robust snacks, tasty snacks, refined preparations.

176479A real specktacle!

That the speck has a glorious past is beyond doubt: along the Adige and Isarco's "he" valley, in fact, it has been spoken since 1200, when the Corporation of Butchers gave precise instructions on its preparation. Which included precise and unchanging operations of salting and smoking so that the speck is still produced according to the traditional rule "little salt, little smoke and lots of air". And so, if you really want to label it in a definition, Speck is a slightly smoked and seasoned raw ham. The choice of the raw material is obviously the basis of the quality of Speck Alto Adige PGI because only carefully selected pork thighs are used to produce it. The actual processing involves eight very precise steps: from boning to smoking (which is done by preparing a fire of wood that is not very resinous, so as not to give Speck a too strong flavor), to exposure to the brisk air of the South Tyrolean valleys to maturing that lasts on average 6/7 months. And the Bauernspeck? Is it peasant speck, as the literal translation wants, obtained from selected pigs and reared in small herds left in the semi-wild state in the masi of the innermost valleys. In addition to the thigh, in this case, other cuts (coppa, shoulder, carré, pancetta) are also used in order to exploit all the parts of the animal, as tradition dictates.

176482Melamangio

The bumps, the hills, the fields are an endless expanse of trees full of trees golden bright yellow, granny smith intense green and very red red delicious. We are just over 46 ° north latitude, on what can be called the "parallel of apples" and that of South Tyrol is the largest orchard in Europe, which extends over a hundred kilometers long the Adige, from the Val Venosta to the Bassa Atesina with an area of ​​about 18,500 hectares. 300 days of sunshine a year, abundant spring rains, a usually mild summer and autumn give the area the ideal conditions for growing apples up to 1,000 meters above sea level. The unique climate, combined with controlled agricultural practices, natural and ecological make grow thirteen varieties marked IGP mature: from the famous Fuji, Gala, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith to the most niche apples like the Braeburn, the Winesap and the Idared. Every year, according to data, about 1 million tons of apples are harvested, equal to 10% of the entire harvest in the European Union. And as far as organic food is concerned, South Tyrol is also one of the Union's largest suppliers: around a quarter of organic apples in Europe come from here.

Perfectly informs

It can be said that all the cheeses South Tyrolean quality standards are exceptionally high: artisanal production, non genetically modified and controlled feed and fodder, the natural breeding techniques and strict controls on milking and processing milk are the secrets of this success. Among the protagonists of the tableau de fromage South Tyrolean figure, no doubt, it Stelvio PDO, the only South Tyrolean cheese to have received the European Union Protected Designation of Origin. A historic product of the province (it has been talked about for at least a century), it is a cheese made from fresh cow's milk from 300 alpine farms, almost all located at over 1,000 meters above sea level. The maturing of the forms takes place on fir wood boards and lasts 62 days, during which the cheese is constantly massaged with salt water. To this brine are added autochthonous microorganisms that further strengthen the character of the cheese. Only in this way the Stelvio PDO can have its typical crust and its unique taste. That's not all, of course: the Stelvio is produced without the use of genetically modified organisms, a condition that also applies to the rennet needed for protein coagulation.

Enrico Saravalle
June 2019


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