‘Nuduja (pronounced ‘nduya) is an Italian pork salumi (cured sausage), made with pig’s head (but not cheeks – they are use for guanciale), shoulder and belly, plus salt, roasted red chilli peppers and spices. The mixture is squeezed into a pig’s intestine, which is tied up and smoked then left to cure for up to 2 years. ‘Nduja comes from Calabria in the south of Italy and takes it’s name from French Andouille and the Angevins who ruled the region in the 13th Century. Add the letter “A” to ‘nduja and swap the “J” for two “L”s and the names become more alike, but that’s where the similarity ends. Later, probably when Calabria was ruled by the Crown of Aragon (sponsors of Columbus’ voyage to the New World) chilli peppers were brought back to Europe, and the Calabrians added them to their ‘nduja, which became a unique salumi in it’s own right.
‘Nduja is a soft, spreadable salumi and looks a lot like sobrasada from the Balearic Islands (also part of the Aragonese empire, back in the day), however, the taste is completely different. Sobrasada has a very strong salty pimentón flavour to it, whereas ‘nduja has a hot chilli taste that’s more fiery, less smokey and will put hair on your chest!
I came across ‘nduja a couple of years ago in my local pizzeria, Saponara, where they use it in their picante pizza – I like it so much I’ve never gotten round to trying another topping, so when I came across the salumi whole, at my butcher’s, I had to have one!
So what does one do with a 1lb salumi? Firstly cut a bit off and spread it on crusty bread or toast, like paté – it will burn your tongue and palate and then you’ll crave more! Next, take a tip from the Italians and add some ‘nduja to pasta sauce.
‘Nduja Ragu recipe (serves 4):
1 large onion (chopped)
6 pieces of garlic (finely chopped)
1 red or green pepper (chopped)
1 courgette (chopped)
5 medium tomatoes (grated) or a tin
6 mushrooms (chopped)
a handful of aceitunas (green olives stuffed with anchovies)
4 slices of smoked streaky bacon (chopped)
a 1 inch slice of nduja
1 teaspoon of rosemary, sage and thyme (a few sprigs of each), coarse sea salt and black peppercorns ground in a mortar and pestle
2 bay leaves
a dessertspoonful of tomato purée
a large squirt of anchovy paste
a splash red wine vinegar
a slug of extra virgin olive oil for frying
Start by frying the onion in olive oil until it goes translucent. Add the chopped streaky bacon and let it change colour. Meanwhile, slice off about an inch (2.5cm) of ‘nduja and remove the outer casing. Note the visible pieces of red pepper in the slice above.
Break off little chunks of the salumi into the bacon and onion.
The ‘nduja will melt in the pan and mix in with the other ingredients. Next add garlic, courgette and the red or green pepper, followed by mushrooms and grated tomato. Sprinkle on the ground herbs, two bay leaves, squeeze in the tomato purée and anchovy paste along with a splash of red wine vinegar.
Give the mixture a good stir before adding a handful of aceitunas verdes rellenas de anchoa (olives stuffed with anchovies).
Cook on a low heat for 20 – 30 minutes and serve with pasta and grated parmesan.
‘Nuduja Pizza recipe:
Having a good supply of ‘nduja gave me lots of opportunity to experiment, so I used some for home made pizza. Above, I made a marinara type sauce with 6 large tomatoes (blanched and peeled), chopped garlic, basil leaves, red wine vinegar a squirt of tomato purée and anchovy paste, plus an inch of ‘nduja broken up and stirred in.
Bake the base blind (5 minutes at the bottom of a very hot oven), for a more crispy artesanal style pizza. Brush the hot dough with marinara and a topping of your choice. I used chorizo slices, mozzarella and kalamata olives. Bake the pizza on the bare bars of the oven, towards the bottom, for 30 – 40 minutes or until it has browned nicely.
…and I also cooked an ‘nduja and rabbit stew with dried broad beans, using this recipe. I broke yet another inch of ‘nduja in with the translucent onions, instead of chorizo, then skipped the pimentón and swapped the broad beans (pre soaked and cooked in a pressure cooker) for chickpeas.