You Say Po-tay-toe, I Say Po-tah-toe, You Say ‘Nduja, I Say Wha???

Several weeks ago, while Foodgawk-ing, I came across a picture of something that looked awfully delicious, but I was unsure of its provenance.  Based on the color, I assumed it was a form of spicy tomato tapenade.  You can see for yourself here.  At the time I didn’t bother to investigate the matter further, other than favoriting the item and figuring I’d come back to it some other day.

Then, earlier this week the Chowhound San Francisco Digest newsletter (because I like to know what’s happening in food all over the world) made mention of this stuff again, and provided additional details.  Whereas before all I had was a name (‘nduja), now I had a rough idea of the components that made up this luscious-looking spread, and I was intrigued…

It turns out that ‘nduja is a regional Calabrian salami of sorts, that is prepared with large amounts of pork, fat and spicy Italian hot peppers.  It is sold in one of two forms, either smoked in animal casing, or jarred and “raw”.  My curiosity piqued, I knew that this was something I had to try for myself, not to mention that it sounded like something that’d be right up the Everyman’s alley (and I do so love lavishing him with things that are right up his alley, the lucky duck).  However, tracking down an authentic recipe is more challenging than it sounds.  As with much of Italy’s regional delicacies, not much is know about n’duja outside of a very small area surrounding Calabria.  Not one to be foiled, I pressed on with my search, eventually uncovering a vague suggestion of what is required for the potential meaty deliciousness.

Some sources say that the mixture is nothing more than ground pork, ground fat and Calabrian peppers, while others refer to pig’s liver as well.  Pig’s liver could technically be considered a form of fat, but the bigger challenge will be the hot peppers.  The specific varieties of peppers are integral to the flavor of this raw meat paste, but no recommendations was made about suitable substitutes.  I have a small list of Italian peppers I’ll be on the lookout for, in the hopes of recreating my own ‘nduja soon.  If I manage to scrape something together, I’ll post my own recipe, too.  I may need to reach out to someone from the Toronto foodscape who’s more knowledgeable on the subject than I.  I think the hardest thing about the whole process will be keeping my hands off it, as I’ve read that it’s meant to cure anywhere from a few months to a year before serving.  Since it’s supposed to be eaten raw (though it’ll be cured, I guess) I think I’ll need to smoke it in order to feel comfortable eating it, but I don’t have a real smoker yet.  Perhaps, once the time comes, I will though.  Lots to think about!

Until next time…

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