When most people think of Germany, they think Autobahn, engineering, and Oktoberfest. I, however, think immediately of my favorite Teutonic Titwillow, Lili von Shtupp (as played by the immortal Madeline Kahn) in Blazing Saddles. She remains emblazoned on my mind when it comes to all things Germanic. It’s twue. It’s twue…
Which brings me to speck, a favorite ham from Trentino-Alto Adige, the far northern province of Italy. Bordered by Austria and Switzerland, it has bounced back and forth between German, Austrian, and Italian control and culture over the centuries. Today, the area is officially Italian, even though Alto Adige is still called South Tyrol in English and Germanic influences and language are omnipresent. Speck is the region’s version of prosciutto, seasoned differently than its famous Parma counterpart.
Like many bitter foods, radicchio mellows in intensity when cooked, especially with onion. For a more intense flavor, you can skip the cream. Either way, it’s a perfect dish. Really, it’s twue.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until translucent. Add the speck and sauté until browned, careful not to let it get crispy. Add the radicchio and cook until it wilts. Add the wine and stir together until it evaporates. Add the cream, salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the sauce begins to reduce, 3 – 5 minutes.
Cook the pasta until al dente (about 2 minutes less than the package directions), drain and add to the radicchio mixture.
Serve with grated Parmigiano.
Ed Garrubbo, Editor