High on my running mental list of must-try restaurants sits A.O.C., Suzanne Goin's oft-praised wine and small-plates spot. Until I score a reservation, I'll sate my appetite for her elegant fare by cooking my way through The A.O.C. Cookbook, out today. Flipping through the glossy pages, it was hard to pick a place to start, but it's safe to say I chose wisely with her meat-heavy salad of speck — a smoky cured meat — apples, and arugula. Rather than a green salad garnished with speck, this appetizer is more speck garnished with arugula, straddling the line between salad and charcuterie plate (it is, in fact, from the charcuterie section of the book), making it a great option for satisfying your inner carnivore. Hungry? Try the recipe for yourself.
Today, Annie asked me for help. She's hosting a small party tomorrow night and wants to serve some nibbles. Since it will be after work, the amount of time she can devote to cooking is limited. Thus she needs some delicious, but easy appetizer recipes. I provided so many suggestions, I thought, why not share them? Here, you'll find my favorite shockingly easy hors d'oeuvre ideas.
Source: Flickr User fulminating
At the Fancy Foods Show, I found myself drawn to paper-thin slices of dark, purple-hued cured meat. I quickly learned that the ultratender, sweet meat was something called bresaola, also known as beef prosciutto. Bresaola is an air-cured, spiced, and salted cut of beef that is aged for several months. The cut comes from the hind leg of the animal and is best served thinly sliced as an antipasto.
While the beef cut (usually the eye of round) is very tender, unlike prosciutto, it's extremely lean and has no visible fat. Valtellina, the Alpine valley in Lombardy where bresaola was first conceived, is a protected geographical indication; those made in the same style outside Valtellina are often labeled "viande séchee" instead. The most popular way to serve bresaola is sliced on its own as an appetizer. It is often drizzled with olive oil or vinegar in the style of beef carpaccio, or served on top of salads and pizza. Have you ever tried bresaola?
Source: Flickr User snowpea&bokchoi
Deep red in color with heavily marbled traces of fat, speck is served thinly sliced as an appetizer, or is used to flavor cooked dishes. For a less traditional application, try it in a salad with apples and arugula.
Note that speck from Alto Adige or Tyrol, which enjoys a protected designation of origin, should not be confused with the German usage of the word, which refers to lard.
Source: Flickr User dags1974
While charcuterie and salumi share many similarities — both are cured meats, and both maximize the use of every part of the animal — they're not the same thing. Charcuterie, a French term, typically refers to cooked meats such as pâtés. The Italian equivalent of charcuterie is referred to as affettati, while salumi generally refers to salted and dry-cured meats. Salame (plural is salami) is a cured sausage made from ground pork, and is a type of salumi.
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