How to use Nduja
We can all agree that British cooking has had something of an overhaul in recent decades; culinary influences from around the world have revolutionised menus across the country. And despite being purveyors of the ‘Best of British’, we’re not afraid to admit that sometimes, those British products take inspiration from elsewhere. And why not? As a country made up of a rich tapestry of identities, communities and cuisines, Britain has a long tradition of welcoming new influences and ideas; tea, curry, even the quintessentially British fish and chips has its roots in Jewish immigration.
Of course, sometimes that culinary newcomer takes a little getting used to, and we’ve certainly had a fair few questions from customers curious to know how to use nduja. So we thought we’d take a look at this delicious meat, where it comes from, and how you can use nduja to spice up your culinary repertoire.
What is nduja?
Prounounced ‘en-doo-ya’, Nduja is a hot, spreadable salami that originates from Southern Italy. The nduja featured on Barbury Hill is made from finely ground pork belly mixed with roasted red peppers, spices and white wine from Spain. With a smooth, soft texture and rich, spicy flavour with heat at the end, it is an incredibly versatile ingredient that lends itself to a wide range of dishes. From pizza to pasta, crusty bread to ripe cheese, nduja takes many dishes to a spicy high.
Traditionally, nduja is the result of a ‘waste not, want not attitude’, one we fully subscribe to at Barbury Hill. While Beal’s Farm use the pork belly, nduja was created to use the unused pieces of meat, for instance the offal, fat and offcuts of the prime pieces. The hot chillis used would have worked as a natural preservative, keeping the nduja fresh for longer.
Where does nduja come from?
Nduja originated in the southern region of Calabria, Italy’s ‘toe of the boot’, around the beginning of the 1800’s. As noted above, pig farmers, reluctant to waste food, used the leftover cuts and parts of the pig in a sausage. So while it’s now more commonly found on hip menus and the counters of trendy London delis, it was once the food of poorer communities.
It’s thought nduja may share similarities with the ‘andouille’ sausage introduced by Napoleon when he attacked Calabria in 1807. Of course, the Italians spiced things up, packing it with fiery Calabrian chillies to create a far hotter version with much more of a kick.
What can I use nduja for?
What can’t you use Nduja for! This versatile meat can be spread on crusty toast, spooned onto pizza as a topping, stirred through pasta sauce to add a salty, spicy, umami hit, and swirled into scrambled eggs, to name just a few.
Nduja on toast
Grill slices of crusty bread, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned. Once toasted, remove and rub with a clove of garlic before spreading liberally with nduja. As a delightful extra, for a special lunch, add some wilted spinach before topping with a perfectly poached egg.
Nduja works well with pizza where the hot temperature means the nduja stays more or less whole and doesn’t melt into the sauce. Create your favourite tomato topping and spread it over a base. Sprinkle with parmesan and mozzarella. Dot the top with spoonfuls of nduja and cook as usual.
For a delightfully creamy but spicy pasta dish, sauté shallots until soft before adding nduja, garlic and tomatoes and cooking until the tomatoes release their juices. At the same time, cook some pasta. Add 80ml of dry white wine to the sauce and reduce before adding 110ml of cream and some of the pasta water just to loosen the sauce. Simmer until the sauce turns a deeper orange and then add the pasta and spinach, stirring until it’s wilted. Add Parmesan and serve.
If these suggestions have piqued your interest, but your local shop has yet to discover the delights of nduja, look no further than Beal’s Farm from Barbury Hill. Found in our Hot Box and The Kitchen Box, this nduja is a cut (pun intended!) above the rest.
The pork used in Beal’s Farm’s nduja is from the Mangalitsa pigs, a distinctive breed with curly colourful fleeces that give a hint of their relationship to the wild boar and make them instantly recognisable as they roam the pastures and woods of Beal’s Farm. They were saved from extinction in the early 2000s, and their highly marbled meat is now recognised as one of the finest in charcuterie.
Just like many of Barbury Hill’s independent producers, Beal’s is a family-run farm where sustainability and animal welfare take priority. The herd is reared on the family farm, while the curing, smoking, air-drying and packing is also carried out onsite, keeping mileage low and guaranteeing a transparent supply chain that starts with Beal’s Farm and ends with Barbury Hill, with no middleman in between.
How will you use your nduja?
With nduja in your fridge or cupboard (advice varies so check the packaging on your nduja), you can spice up any dish, whipping out a culinary masterpiece that will impress even the most seasoned gastronome. We hope this rundown has given you some tips on how to use nduja, and armed you with some facts to impress dinner guests when they inevitably ask for more.
by Dan, Barbury Hill Founder