Growing up in an Italian household we always had prosciutto on Sundays with our Antipasto spread, but when studying abroad in Italy in 2010 I discovered Speck Alto Adige. I love Speck Alto Adige because it has all the wonderful qualities of traditional prosciutto,in that it is both meaty and delicate. Just like prosciutto it has such a wonderful salty bite to it, but the Speck brings a smoky punch to the flavor profile, that I just can’t get enough of! I love the way Speck’s salty and smoky flavors compliment sweet, juicy fruits or even mild, creamy mozzarella. It is the perfect addition to many savory and sweet ingredients.
I made a simple but flavorful Speck and Fig Crostini that consists of perfectly toasted baguette slices topped with smoky Speck Alto Adige, creamy Havarti cheese, sweet balsamic soaked figs and finally very aromatic, fresh Basil. Many of my family members had fig trees in their backyard while I was growing up, so I have so many fond memories of me reaching up to the green branches and picking fresh, juicy figs right off the vine. My family uses figs in many of our most cherished recipes, so they have a very special place in my heart. I soak the figs in good quality Balsamic vinegar because the rich flavors of the balsamic really compliment the flavors of the fresh figs. The vinegar also brings some acidity to the dish which cuts throughout the richness of the cheese and meat perfectly.
Speck Alto Adige is a very versatile ingredient that you can use in a multitude of ways! You can chop it up into small pieces and add it to pasta dishes, wrap it around fresh melons for a quick snack or even use it instead of bacon in your favorite breakfast dishes like fritatas, eggs Benedict and quiche. The salty, smoky bite of the Speck will amplify the flavors of even the simplest dishes. Speck has the perfect ratio of fat and meat. When sliced paper thin, it just feels as if it melts on the tongue leaving the most pleasant salty, smoky, rich flavor behind.
- Speck Alto Adige (Smoked Prosciutto)
- One Loaf of French Baguette (You can use any bread you like!)
- Fresh Black Mission Figs (about 5 Figs)
- Havarti Cheese ( About 1/2 Lb will be sufficient)
- 1/4 Cup Balsamic Vinegar (I prefer a good Modena balsamic because it is very rich in flavor)
- Salt and Ground Black Pepper
- Fresh Basil chiffonade about 6 large leaves ( you can also use sage or thyme if you like!)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling on the bread
- Balsamic Reduction (can be made by cooking balsamic in a pot on the stove until it is a syrup like consistency, but you can find a squeeze bottle of balsamic reduction in almost any grocery store!)
- Preheat the oven to 350F.
- After gently washing and drying your figs, cut off the stems and slice each fig longways about 1/4 inch thick. It find it is best to use a sharp pairing knife to avoid bruising or squishing the figs.
- Place the sliced figs in a small bowl and pour the 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar over them. Allow them to soak in the balsamic until you are ready to put them on the crostini.
- Slice your baguette on a slight bias, into about 1/2 inch thick. Place all the bread slices onto a sheet pan lined with parchment or aluminum foil and drizzle them with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle the crostini with salt and ground black pepper and place in the oven
- Bake the bread for about 10-12 minutes to jump start the toasting process. You do not want to toast them all the way because once you add the toppings you will continue to toast them.
- Cut each piece of Speck Alto Adige in half and cut your cheese into slices about the size of your crostini and about 1/4 inch thick.
- Place one small piece of Speck Alto Adige onto each piece of toast and then top it with one slice of cheese. Next place one slice of balsamic soaked fig on top of the cheese. Place in the oven to finish the cooking process.
- Toast until the cheese is fully melted and the bread has a nice crunch to it. Drizzle each piece with balsamic reduction and a tiny pinch of salt and pepper. Taste one before you salt because the Speck is naturally salty so you may not need it. Top with the chopped basil, sage, thyme or whatever herbs you prefer and Enjoy!