For a long time, the word speck referred to lard, from the Latin lardum, meaning the fat part of the pig.
Back then, a distinction was made between smoked speck, which only began to resemble with what we think of as speck today beginning in the 17th century, and the non-smoked meat that was basically lard.
Modern speck production made according to the IGP (Protected Geographical Denomination) rules is carefully regulated, however there are still people who make speck according to family tradition.
When made at home, speck is subject to a number of variables. Generally, it is made using the thigh of a pig, raised according to industry standards or family customs.
The thigh meat is carefully trimmed and then cured in an aromatic mixture of pepper, allspice, garlic, juniper berries and sugar. Some people prefer to dry-cure the meat by rubbing it with course salt and spices. The meat is kept in the cure for fifteen days, and is turned frequently.
Then the speck is dried and slow smoked for two or three weeks. The smoking process also includes many variables. The type of wood used depends on the area of production and can include pinewood, beech, or even the clippings from grape vines or sawdust. The only constant is the use of juniper wood. The amount of smoke is carefully regulated. There should never be too much and it is important that there be plenty of air. Homemade speck is generally made in small amounts to be consumed by a single family. Semi-industrial speck is quite popular and in made in much larger quantities.
In the library:
INSOR-Istituto nazionale di sociologia rurale, Atlante dei prodotti tipici: i salumi, Roma, Agra – Rai-Eri, ;
L. ROMANELLI, I salumi d'Italia, Firenze, Nardini, 2002;
C. RAVANELLO, Cucina e vini dell'Alto Adige, Roma, F. Muzzio, 2002.