Posts Tagged ‘‘nduja’

If You Can’t Stand The Heat…

Assemblage

Lest you start smirking about how seasonally appropriate this next dish is, wipe those silly grins from your faces because it was actually inspired by a comment left by Larbo’s friend Dan (aka the Chocolate Man).

It wasn’t enough for me to make my own ‘nduja.  Nor was it sufficient to try my hand at combining it into ‘nduja burgers.  And even after all that, my ‘nduja chocolate truffles only served to stoke the fire of my curiousity.

Nope.  I had to reach further; I had to do more.

Larbo’s friend Dan succinctly reminded me that what had initially inspired me to make ‘nduja truffles in the first place was a bizarre chocolate and ‘nduja pasta recipe on an Italian food website I’d noticed through Foodgawker.  It seemed only fitting that I should further expand on that idea in my own unique way.

Ideas have been marinating for a couple of days now, but yesterday afternoon I finally came to a conclusion about what I wanted to do.

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Something Wicked This Way Comes

Truffes De 'Nduja

I’m going to preface this by saying that this post is probably not for everyone.  With that in mind, I suggest you read on at your own risk.

Just before Christmas, Larbo and I were discussing ‘nduja and fate happened to drop this on my lap.  Being that our combined aptitude for deciphering Italian is mediocre at best, the consensus we reached was that it was a recipe for an ‘nduja and cocoa nib pasta sauce, but at the time we were unable to tell whether it was actually a traditional recipe from the Calabrian region that ‘nduja hails from, or just some kind of joke or one off creation.  Both somewhat perplexed, the bizarre medley has been on my mind ever since.

Generally speaking, Larbo, Scott and I have been good-naturedly one upping each other with this ‘nduja stuff since we all started making it early last year.  It’s become somewhat of a common theme in our posts, and I’m pretty comfortable saying that it’s likely one of the top trafficked search terms that brings people to our individual sites (I know it is on mine).

But, I just couldn’t shake this chocolate/’nduja feeling, so after much deliberation I decided what direction I wanted to take it in – that which has always been near and dear to my heart; the truffle.

Miscellaneous Bar Ends

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Panino Sinestro (Or, I Give You The ‘Nduja Burger)

'Nduja Burger

Ever since I made ‘nduja back at the beginning of May I’ve been playing the waiting game while it fermented, cured and hung in my kitchen window, taunting me.

During that time my friends Larbo and Scott of This Little Piggy and The Sausage Debauchery (respectively) have been churning out all kinds of wondrous delights made with their versions of the piquant spread while I’ve been quietly biding my time.  In fact, Larbo’s probably been the most prolific, creating ‘nduja di bufala, ‘nduja pate and most recently an ‘nduja mortadella to make us all jealous and drooling.  Once I work through some of my own ‘nduja reserves I fully intend to build on his pate idea, but for now I’m holding those cards close to the chest.  Lest you think that Scott’s some sort of slouch, let me tip my hat to him for single-handedly starting up a mail order business to bring ‘nduja-making supplies (and other imported Italian goodies) to the masses.  As you can see, our combined aim is to completely blanket the planet in ‘nduja fever!

Hanging

In an attempt to keep mine somewhat traditional, I’d let the ‘nduja hang for as close to the year I’d originally intended as I could possibly wait.  Some of it will surely see a 1 year anniversary since my first attempt was a double batch, leaving me with close to 6 kg of ‘nduja hanging around waiting for inconspicuous consumption and culinary inspiration to strike.

This very weekend was the first time since I stuffed the ‘nduja that I’d had an occasion to cut down a finished link and give a taste, and words cannot express how truly excited I was.

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The Foodie 13 – All I Want For Christmas

Prezzie

Within the last week or so (or pretty much since US Thanksgiving rolled around) it seems that everyone and their dog has been compiling lists of gift ideas for the foodies in our lives.

But instead of telling you about great things to buy for everyone else, I thought I’d turn the idea on its head and do a round up of the various bits and bobs that I’m hoping to get this year.  You are welcome to provide your own gadget-y suggestions in the comments, of course.

However, before you start thinking that the publishing of this list is nothing more than a poorly veiled series of hints for the Everyman (or various other people in my life) I will assure you, it is not.  You see, I’ve made kitchen stuff off limits as a gifting inspiration for the Everyman.  A few years ago he bought me a gorgeous Peugeot red pepper mill as part of a Christmas gift (which I loved), but then for a birthday he bought me one of those ginormous chocolate fountains (which I was a little less stoked about).  To be fair, he had at one point heard me say that I wanted a chocolate fountain, but I’m very particular about the larger appliances that I allow into my kitchen, if for no other reason than the premium on our space.

Plus, to me a loved one should never give practical presents; that’s what my parents, friends and acquaintances are for.  Presents from loved ones should be frivolous extravagances that you are deserving of, but would probably never bother buying yourself, which in my case would be stuff like jewelry or spa days.  And there’s always that phantom ring that everyone’s been asking about and keeps hovering over our heads, because you know, shacking up is like so 2007… so put a ring on it already, right?

But no.

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The Death Burger

Death Burger

Hot on the back of our ‘nduja fun over at The Black Hoof last week, I decided to revisit the blisteringly addictive jar of minced Terroni-brand pepperoncinis I had in the fridge.

Other than the ‘nduja and a random side I’d made a few months ago, it’s been languishing in condiment alley, hidden amongst so many other preserved delights.

In the summer (and really, anytime) the one thing I love to cook is burgers, and as the resident Queen of the grill around these parts, I probably cook them about once a week.  I have lots of different versions I like to make, from cheese and jalapeño stuffed chipotle burgers, to tomato powder-infused green chile mozzaburgers, to plain and simple s&p only burgers; there are few occasions where I don’t approve of (or can’t find a way to improve) a burger recipe.

Recalling the cooling sensation of the olive oil and prawns counteracting the ‘nduja heat, I imagined that a lump of cheese would perform similarly.  Luckily for us we had some fresh bocconcinis in the house from the paninis the Everyman and I had made for lunch.  I envisioned a tablespoon-sized quenelle of the pepperoncini hidden beneath a luxurious melting of mozzarella; sweet, spicy, smoky and piquant.  That was all the convincing I needed, so I set to work.

Keeping the seasoning simple, the burger itself was nothing more than organic grass-fed beef, a sprinkle of s&p and some cold water to keep the patties fluffy.  Cooked to a tasty medium rare, during the last few minutes of grilling I topped the burgers with the spoon of pepperoncini and lumps of cheese while I toasted the buns and waited for the melt.  Unfortunately the bocconcinis took too long to liquify, even though I’d sliced them thin, so the burger was a few shades past medium by the time I pulled them off, but miraculously still maintained their juiciness.

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Hot Damn

I went to the doctor yesterday and found out I now have to arm myself with an epi pen.  Boooooooooo!!!!

But, let me back up a second.  For several years now I’ve been having increasingly severe reactions to various types of shellfish.  Something as innocuous as crab, which I used to catch and eat frequently as a child in British Columbia now causes my throat to swell closed and is completely off limits.  A few years later, lobster came to the party and shouted out an enthusiastic allergic ditto.  While I can still eat shrimp and scallops (for now) without any ill effects, for the most part I try to avoid shellfish altogether, because I just don’t feel like taking the risk.  Plus, the one I really loved was crab, and ironically that’s the one I react to the most.

I was doing a pretty good job of avoiding shellfish too, until an intriguing note from Grant over at The Black Hoof coaxed us into returning.  It’d been almost 5 months since our last visit; since the Everyman accuses the place of giving him protein poisoning pretty much every time we go there, we’ve kind of been avoiding it for the last little bit.  That note this week changed all of that…

You see, months ago when I was in the midst of my ‘nduja experimentation, the first person I went to for advice was Grant.  Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to know anything about it, other than the Len Poli resource I’d already been studying.  In fact, I think I may have been responsible for turning him on to the ‘nduja trend (I’ve never asked; perhaps he also admires Chris Cosentino as I do, and heard of it that way).  At any rate, we both ended up making some, and his email this week was to let me know that he’d finally taken it out of the curing room and was ready to start serving it.  I decided to be a little more hardcore with mine, and instead am curing it for at least 6 months, but possibly as long as 12 depending on its consistency at the halfway point.  Regardless, I stll had a foodie’s interest in testing out Grant’s version, so away to The Hoof we’d go.

When we sat down for dinner, the first thing we both noticed was that the ‘nduja dish on the chalkboard was marked as $1.  We both spent some time speculating over whether it was such a risky dish that they were trying to give it away, or whether he just wanted to get people to order it (incidentally, it turned out to be neither – the 3 just happened to rub off beside it)  After consuming a deluxe-sized platter covered in all of our favourite meats between us (guanciale, cheek rilettes, duck mousse, chorizo, lonzino, clove sausage and more) plus a massive bowl of bread, my ‘nduja arrived in the form of a quenelle, sided by smoked spot prawns, (this is where we connect back to my shellfish allergy) halved cherry tomatoes, olive oil and some nice crusty bread.  When I’d seen that it was served with spot prawns on the menu, I spent a good few minutes debating with the Everyman the likelihood of said prawns sending me into anaphylactic shock; I’d eaten them before, but it had been years.  Obviously the lust for ‘nduja won (and luckily no shock was had).  The prawns were heavenly, lusciously smoky, but not overly so, and provided a cooling burst to combat the ‘nduja’s heat.  The strange thing about ‘nduja is that the first bite (which was tiny) was literally so hot I felt like I couldn’t breathe, but the more I ate it, the more addicted I became to it, because it wasn’t a lingering heat.  It flared up fast, but dissipated quickly.  Captivating.  By the end I was wantonly slathering toasted bread with it and mounding prawns and tomatoes on board.  There’s only one word for food this good; stupendous.

Let’s just say I’m looking forward to throwing open my ‘nduja all the more now.  October just can’t come fast enough over here.

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Meat, Meat And More Meat

Precariously Balanced 'Nduja

I’ve been working on a lot of meat-based projects lately.

It’s beyond long overdue, but I finally got around to hanging my ‘nduja and csabai this past weekend.  They were both smoked a few weeks ago, but the lack of opportune curing space in our condo has had me stymied for some time.  Up until this point both were sitting in the fridge, contaminating my other foodstuffs with their pungent, smoky aromas.  If it weren’t for our household of kitties I would have had the perfect environment for curing in the basement, but unfortunately I’m almost certain that the ammonia smell from their litterboxes would eventually permeate (and ruin) perfectly good meat.  After all the work I’ve put into these projects that was not a risk I was willing to take.

In the end I decided to jerry rig a few suspension apparatuses around my kitchen that will (hopefully) be able to withstand the job.  So far they seem to be holding up just fine, and the way I figure it, it’s only going to get lighter anyway, as the meat begins to lose it’s moisture.

My apologies for the general crappiness of these pictures; I doubt you’ll be able to discern what it is I was doing.  It’s difficult to properly capture ‘nduja hanging suspended from a broomstick just outside the top of a kitchen windowsill.  It’s also just below the air conditioning register in the ceiling, which should keep it nicely cooled, I think.  Despite the rather bad lighting, I can assure you that after several days of smoking these salamis have taken on a burnished mahogany cast and slightly firmer (but squishier) texture.  I originally intended to hang them for about a year, but now that they’re out in the open in my kitchen I may have to rethink that strategy.  At the very least I’ll do 6 months, but in the end it’s going to be something I play by ear.

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‘Nduja: In Pictures

All Done!

These pictures will probably horrify most of the Hebrew population, so view at your own risk.  A few observations on the ‘nduja-making process;

Pig liver is probably the most disgusting thing I’ve ever held in my two hands.  Really, truly foul.

Pig Liver... Feels Really Gross

Also, standing on a chair to tamp meat through a meat grinding attachment on the stand mixer is a really bad idea (I fell off the chair and counter and almost broke my knee in the process.  Sound like fun?)

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I’m Picking Up My Meaty Assembly, Won’t That Butcher Be So Proud Of Me?

I’ve received word.

The stuff is finally in.

‘Nduja, csabai and smoked turkey, here I come!

Also came across this over at The Sausage Debauchery (love that name!) this morning.  The second bacon sounds so delicious I might have to try playing with some of it, too.  Here’s hoping the butcher’s got a nice slab of uncured belly meat with my name on it!

Until next time…

Game On!

The Trinity Bellwoods Farmer’s Market opens today!

Are you excited?  I know I am :)   I wonder what sorts of goodies there’s going to be?  I can’t wait to stop by after work.  Hopefully there’ll still be some good stuff left by the time I get there.

Plus, today is the day I pick up my variety meats from The Healthy Butcher, which means it’s ‘nduja time! The butcher called to say there was a mix up at the slaughterhouse and my stuff wouldn’t be in this week.  So I’ll have to wait 7 more days until I get my meat on, unfortunately.

Curses!  Alas, there will be no ‘nduja or csabai making being done in our house this weekend.  I wonder what else I should do to fill up my time?

Until next time…

Fiery Foodie

Pureed Pepperoncini

The time that’s elapsed since I first mentioned ‘nduja a few weeks ago has not flown by with frivolity at Foodie and the Everyman.

I’ve purposely been somewhat mum on the matter because while I’m waiting for my various ingredients to show up, I’ve been trying to formulate a recipe that will warm my own (often icy) heart.  You see, like most unique regional specialties (but especially, if not doubly so for ones of the Italian variety) there is rarely one ironclad, foolproof, universally accepted formulation.  Couple that with the fact that many traditional Italians are often notably tight-lipped when it comes to passing on recipes to someone outside of the family, and you have your own recipe for banging one’s head against the wall.

But, I’m nothing if not one stubborn cookie.  I persevered and after a few weeks and more evenings spent Google searching than I’d care to admit, I’ve come up with a ratio that my neophyte cured meat-making self feels good about.  I couldn’t find much of merit or substance on Google; I expect that if there are any more comprehensive recipes they were probably only available in Italian, but pieced together from the few sources and references I could find, I’ve formulated this eye-searing version.
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One Step Closer To Livin’ The Dream

Yesterday morning I finally found the place to procure the rest of my sausage-making software.

Or rather, a friendly group of fellow ‘hounds pointed me in the right direction, to an online vendor called Malabar Super Spice.  It’s funny because when I first looked into sausage-making at the beginning of the year I had looked up Malabar, but promptly forgot about it.  Having gotten reacquainted with their website, I managed to order myself something that goes by the dubious name of beef middles, among other things.  According to all the sausage-recipes I’ve been planning lately, beef middle is what I need to stuff the meat into.  I’m not quite certain exactly what part the middle comes from, but I’m pretty sure I’d rather not know.

When it gets here on Tuesday, it’ll be time to start working on my much anticipated ‘nduja (even though it has to cure for a year) and also the other item I’ve been contemplating, some spicy Hungarian csabai.  I’ve always wanted to make a prosciutto, but I don’t think I have the room, ideal temperate zone or expertise to properly pull that one off without killing myself (or more likely the Everyman, since he’s the real prosciutto fiend in this household).

I’ve been slowly trying to increase my comfort level with cured meats this year, but I still don’t have that gut feeling like I know what I’m doing.  And unfortunately with stuff like this where molds can be involved, not knowing what you’re doing is somewhat dangerous.  That’s why I always sample my homemade products first.  If they don’t kill me, then I’m ok with the Everyman or others trying them.  But I’m not going to make other people sick because of my own stupidity.

In other news, I received word of my first Daring Bakers challenge yesterday.  I don’t think I’m allowed to share what it is with you right now (I’m still a little fuzzy on the rules) but come May 27th, photos of my failure (or success) will be posted on this blog for all to see.  Having read through the recipe a few times already, I’ve got a mild case of anxiety about whether I can pull this one off.  Only time will tell, I guess.

Until next time…

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…