It's pronounced "un-DU-ya". But what is it?
‘Nduja of Spilinga is a spreadable, cured sausage meat spread... made with pork, salt, herbs and the ever-so-hot Calabrian chili pepper. This is a pretty spicy spread. Keep the water and milk handy!
'Nduja was first made by farmers looking for ways to use the lesser parts of a pig. The name ‘Nduja comes from the French word andouille that means sausage. 'Nduja originates from the town of Vibo Valentia in south eastern Calabria, but is now made throughout the region.
According to some historians it was introduced by the Spanish in the 1500s and made using their traditional paprika, but as its name come from the French word “andouille”, it might be a descendant of a very similar French sausage that came to Italy during the time of Napoleon around 1806-1815.
Every May 8th, the town of Vibo Valentia hosts their oldest festival in honor of ‘Nduja, a fantastic, folky, gastronomic experience were the town celebrates this ingredient by preparing many different dishes with it. Voyagers will find food stalls offering traditional dishes and all sort of products that utilize ‘Nduja. There are many celebrations around the town and in the Piazza the heat comes to a head with the “U Camijuzzu i Focu” (camel of fire), a traditional dance. Just make sure you know where the water fountains are.
‘Nduja is commonly eaten as a bruschetta--spread over bread--or used in recipes. Because it's a spread, the flavors will melt into a sauce when added to a saute pan. You can use it to bring it up a notch (as a famous chef used to say) by adding to your Texas chili, as a pizza topping, to soups and stews, as a spread on top of a steak, to make a fiery Pasta Bolognese, a spicy Arrabbiata tomato sauce, in a Sunday Gravy and much more. It's best to test small amounts of 'Nduja before eating it as a spread or adding to your own recipes.
'Nduja is becoming more and more popular in the Foodie world every since a London pizzeria chain started using it on their pizzas. Nowadays, there are lots of top chefs using it in their recipes. There are many imitators but you can still find the real thing imported directly from Calabria or other parts of Southern Italy. The next time you’re in your favorite Italian deli, look for it... but ask if it's the real Calabrian ‘Nduja or just a cheaper version. And believe it or not, you can actually find it on Amazon...