Tag Archives: speck

Have I been chopped? Speck, Pea Shoots and Marsala Meatballs

Speck and pea shoot meatballs

Don’t you get tired to always cook the same dishes? During the last years, I have mastered some recipes that have become my signature dishes. I always have the essential ingredients for them in my refrigerator and I can cook them with my eyes closed. And, of course, I always shoot for one of those dishes for a weeknight meal.

Unfortunately, Her Majesty does not always agree upon my… menu choices. She is starting going through that phase where changes are exciting and routines are boring and she always wants to experiment something new. So, to put an end to her complaints, I decided to change my basic meatball recipe and give it a twist.

The version that I cooked for Her Majesty did not have any Marsala. Nonetheless, her critique was quite brutal. She told me that the taste was not that great and that the meatballs were… kind of chewy! Seriously!!! Not the feedback that I was expecting!

Since I thought that this dish was quite delicious, I decided not to give up and to test the other “mouth” of the house. My beloved husband is never eager to pay me a compliment. He says that he does not sugarcoat his comments for my own sake so that I keep pushing myself striving to always get better at what I do. Lucky me!!! 😉

Anyway, instead of crucifying me like her Majesty, the oracle’s response was positive and flattering so I will keep making these meatballs for me and Stefano over and over. Who knows? Changing her mind is a girl’s prerogative. Maybe Her Majesty will learn to appreciate this recipe when she gets older. At least, that’s what happened to me with some of my family’s recipes.

Speck and pea shoot meatballs

Ingredients:

1 lb, Ground Meat of your choice
1 slice, Speck (¼ inch thick)
2 eggs
6 Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
2 slices, White Bread
2 Tbsp, Milk
Some leaves of Pea Shoots, chopped
3 Tbsp, Flour
2 Tbsp, Extravirgin Olive Oil
1 and 1/2 Tbsp, butter
Juice, half lemon
2 Tbsp, Marsala wine
Salt
Ground black pepper

Directions:

Speck and pea shoot meatballsCut the speck into cubes and set aside.

In a bowl, pour the milk and soak the bread into the milk.

In a large mixing bowl, using your hands combine the ground beef, the eggs, the chopped pea shoots’ leaves, the speck cubes and the Parmesan cheese. With your hands, squeeze the bread and add it to the meat mixture. Add some salt and pepper (to taste) and combine with your hands. Shape the mixture into meatballs.

In a large non-stick skillet, pour the olive oil and add 1 Tbsp of butter. When the butter is completely melted, add the meatballs and cook them until they brown. Add the lemon juice and cook for a couple of minutes. Pour the Marsala wine and keep cooking until the Marsala evaporates. Remove from the stove and add 1/2 Tbsp of butter. Toss to coat until the butter is completely melted. Serve immediately.

Have a wonderful weekend!

F. Xx

PS: In case you are wondering what Pea Shoots are, they are the young leaves and tendrils of pea plants. I didn’t even know they existed before using them for this recipe. They are delicious and their scent is so delicate. The perfect addition to many, many dishes. 😋

A haunting memory: apple and speck risotto

Apple and speck risotto2 Servings

Have you ever happened to go to a restaurant or a dinner party and eat something that “shocked” your taste buds so much (in a positive way, I mean) that the memory of that dish has been haunting you ever since? That’s exactly what happened to me a few Christmases ago.

We were spending our holiday vacation in Courmayeur, a gorgeous ski resort located in Val d’Aosta, a mountainous region in northern Italy, at the foot of the Mont Blanc. One evening, famished after an entire day of skiing, we were enjoying dinner at one of the lovely restaurants in town. After carefully reading the menu, my father announced that he was going to order the apple and speck risotto. Just the idea sounded really promising and intriguing. We were not disappointed. The contrast between the tastiness of the speck (a type of dry-cured, smoked ham) and the sweetness of the apple was a match made in heaven!!!

I’ll never forget that risotto. The “version” that we tasted was made with Granny Smith apples, but the original recipe, that originates from Trentino Alto-Adige, another region in northern Italy, actually calls for Golden Delicious apples that are extensively grown in that region.

I have been meaning to make this risotto for quite some time and, eventually, I felt “inspired” to give it a try. Hauted by the memory, I decided to use some Granny Smith apples (which, by the way, are my favorite kind of apples) but feel free to use the kind of apples you like the most.

I’m really happy of how this risotto turned out. We all loved it so much that it has now found a regular place on our table. Here is the recipe – hopefully, you will love it too!

Apple and speck risotto

Ingredients:

1 cup, peeled Granny Smith apple cubes
2 slices of speck, 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup, chopped onions
1 and 1/2 Tbsp, butter
7 oz, Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1/2 cup, dry white wine
4/5 cups, beef stock
2 and 1/2 Tbsp, grated Parmigiano cheese
salt
pepper

Directions:

Cut up the speck into bits.

In a small pot, put the apple cubes, pour 1/4 cup of wine, add a ladle of beef stock and cook, on a very low heat, for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-size non-stick pot, put 1 Tbsp of butter and the chopped onion and cook until the onion softens.

Add the rice and toss to coat for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the rest of the wine in and keep stirring until the wine evaporates completely.

Add the speck bits and two ladles of beef stock and cook, constantly stirring, until the stock is absorbed. When the beef stock has been absorbed, add another ladle of stock and keep cooking until absorbed, and then repeat the process adding more stock.

About 10 minutes after the first addition of stock, add the apple cubes along with their cooking liquid.

Keep cooking, constantly stirring, and add the rest of the stock little by little until the rice is creamy and cooked al dente. This will take about 18 minutes from the time the first ladle of stock is added. Taste the rice to check if it is necessary to add some salt, bearing in mind that the speck is pretty salty in and of itself.

Remove the pot from the heat, add 1/2 Tbsp of butter and stir until the butter is completely melted. Then, add 1 and 1/2 Tbsp of Parmigiano cheese and stir until you obtain a creamy risotto.

Put the risotto into the serving plates and dust the top of each plate with the rest of the parmigiano cheese and some pepper.

And while you enjoy your risotto… Stefano and I wish you all a very happy Halloween! 🙂