Which are the possible combinations of Italian cereals and cold cuts, and which practical devices and tips can be suggested to enjoy together these two so different foods?
Speck cut into cubes, for instance, is used in many soups of Northern Italian cuisine, and in particular in combination with barley. So, barley soup with speck, more or less thick and enriched with such seasonal vegetables as carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and celery is widespread and appreciated. A variation of this soup is realized combining buckwheat in grains and speck, preparing a base with plenty of onions scented with sage and rosemary. Barley has always been a main character alongside with bacon in its different versions (natural, stewed, smoked) in other soups and often with legumes and such cereals as beans, peas, and corn (widespread in Friuli -Venezia Giulia).
The combination of bacon, chickpeas or beans, and rice is very classic: to a base of bacon the chosen legume is added (very often the legumes are organic, thanks to the vast repertoire of vegetables present in Italy, such as the charming black chickpea, about which we will talk as soon as it is possible), the soup is cooked and to it rice, or alternatively spelt, is added.
Ham steak is another Italian excellence. In Tuscany and in the regions of Central Italy, a variant of the Northern speck soup is prepared with a base of ham steak (usually scraps) fried with vegetables with which spelt is combined. Spelt is a sort of ‘brother’ of barley, with different characteristics and a strongly local footprint. And if while in Northern Italy the use of such fats of animal origin as butter prevails, here there is also an interaction with the prince of seasonings, the olive oil, which thanks to its scents enriches and enhances both ham and spelt.
Risottos are an international pride of Italian cooking and cold cuts often contribute to their final tastiness. Small amounts of them are used for enhancing the flavours and aromas of the other ingredients, both at the beginning of frying and towards the end of cooking. The most used are speck, uncooked and cooked ham, bacon, salami, and sausage.
However, traditionally nothing of risotto is thrown away and the scraps are often reused for creating new recipes thanks to salami and cold pork meats: compacted into small oval croquettes, rice can be wrapped in slices of ham, bacon, speck, or other, by choice, and presented as a roulade enriched with the thin slice of seasoned meat, either cold or just warmed in the oven.
The ‘bresaola’ is another Italian flagship. In this case, it is very interesting to use the slices of this product for realizing dumplings stuffed with boiled rice, corn, or barley, seasoned with such vegetables characterized by strong flavour as asparagus or artichokes. Alternatively, bresaola can be trimmed in fillets and used for enriching in taste mixed grain salad, such as, for instance, the very tasty combination of barley or rice with corn, chickpeas, garden rocket, lemon juice mixed with good olive oil, salt and pepper, and finally bresaola.