Best Thing Since Sliced Bacon


speck_ham_shutterstock_WEBLike belly, guanciale and bacon before it, finding the next big thing in pork is a serious pursuit among chefs and foodies. This year, watch for speck—a fatty smoked bacon-like cut from Tyrol, Italy, near the Swiss border—to pass over the most respected palates in town. “Chefs are experimenting with recipes where bacon would have been the go-to. Now replacing it with other salty, fatty pork counterparts such as speck—a rich, nutty, sweet, buttery, luscious smoked ham laced with aromatics of juniper—to me is a no-brainer,” says local chef Brian Howard. “Bacon, as much as I love it, can be produced in under two weeks. But it will never have the complexity and depth of flavor of a ham that’s well fed, cured and aged in the right environment for a minimum of 10 months.” You can find speck in dishes such as al cipollotto e speck pizzette at Julian Serrano’s Lago in Bellagio, or discover its rich, versatile qualities this fall at Howard’s forthcoming Downtown restaurant Grazing Pig Charcuterie.

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