I am constantly amazed to discover spicy Italian foods I’ve never heard of before. Marco Budinis, one of my Italian chilehead friends, recently attended Natalidea, a Christmas trade show in Genoa, where he bought some nduja and sent me a pic of it, below. Nduja is a soft, spicy hot, spreadable salami considered to be one of the most famous, if not the most famous, of typical Calabrian foods. Nduja originates from Spilinga, though great nduja can be found in all areas of Monte Poro. The name nduja (I have no earthly idea how it’s pronounced) comes from the french word "andouille," which means "sausage." Nduja is made with pork meat, a bit of fat, salt, and a lot of red chile powder, so it is quite spicy. This spiced paste is either put in jars to use as a spread or is stuffed into a casing just like salami. It was a good way to preserve the fat, if you were lucky enough to have a pig to slaughter or access to its offal. It is probably the earliest form of Calabrian convenience food, as it can easily be rendered in a saute pan with chopped onions, garlic, and either a few fresh tomatoes or a small jar of tomato sauce, and then tossed with cooked pasta like penne.
1/2 pound finely chopped bacon
2 ounces finely chopped pork shoulder
2 tablespoons ground red chile, hot (some recipes call for smoked chiles or hot smoked paprika)
1-2 tablespoons sea salt
Mix together all the ingredients in a bowl. Place the mixture in an old-fashioned meat grinder and process through a fine die. You can also use a food processor, but use the pulse mode so that you don’t over process or overheat the mixture.
Yield: About 1 1/2 cups
Heat Scale: Hot
Photo by Marco Budinis