The Gailtaler Speck PGI is a pork product made with meat from an indigenous breed of pigs, the Large White and their crossbreeds, and the Duroc and crossbreeds from breeding programs recognized in Carinthia.
The Gailtaler Speck PGI production area is confined within the administrative boundaries of the towns of Kötschach Mauthen, Dellach, Kirchbach, Gitschtal, Hermagor, St. Stefan im Gailtal, Nötsch im Gailtal, Feistritz an der Gail and Hohenthurn, in the federal state of Carinthia.
All fatty parts of the pig and possibly parts of one side such as the belly, shoulder, loin, scrag-end and leg are used for the production. Once selected, the meat is dry salted and flavoured with pepper, garlic, and other spices and herbs, according to traditional preparation methods handed down for generations. Then marinating takes place, which is preferably carried out on appropriate traditional wooden tables or in special synthetic or steel vats at a temperature between 4°C and 10°C and a humidity of about 70%. The cold cuts, marinated for a period ranging between one and four weeks, are then hung to completely dry, then smoked in the room at a maximum temperature of 22°C. Beech wood is used exclusively for smoking, to which are added sprigs of juniper that give it the characteristic aroma. Once this phase is finished, the speck (salted smoked raw ham) is transferred to the seasoning room, where it remained for 4-12 weeks depending on the size.
Appearance and Flavour
The outer colour of the Gailtaler Speck PGI is golden yellow, while inside is dark red with a white fatty part. The strong flavour is given by the marinating and smoking processes and it is delicately enhanced by the natural flavours and is slightly salty. Its texture is firm, tender to the taste and melts in the mouth.
Gailtaler Speck PGI is the result of an ancient tradition. The production of speck (salted smoked raw ham) in the area is documented since the 15th century. Travel reports, inventories and descriptions of the servant's diet demonstrate the importance of the speck in dietary habits of the valley, mainly due to its excellent conservation for long periods thanks to the smoking and drying processes. The experience handed down for centuries and carried on from generation to generation marks the processing time of the fresh pork, transforming it into a product of great gastronomic value.
Thanks to the smoking and drying processes, the Gailtaler Speck PGI can be conserved for long periods, even if it should ideally be kept in a cool and dry place, perhaps wrapped in a cloth. Gailtaler Speck PGI can be eaten raw or cooked, it lends itself very well as an ingredient to season pasta dishes, to give a special touch to the main courses (like the asparagus with speck), or simply to enrich salads. Of great reputation is the timeless carpaccio dressed with porcini mushrooms.
The product is sold as Gailtaler Speck PGI. It is marketed vacuum packed in slices or cuts.
The particular climatic conditions of Gailtal, characterized by constant temperatures and humidity, many hours of sun, low formation of fog in the winter and fresh southerly winds, decisively contribute in defining the special qualities of Gailtaler Speck PGI.