What is ‘nduja?
'Nduja sausage (pronounced ‘en-doo-ya’) is a spreadable, delightfully spicy sausage from the southern region of Calabria – Italy’s ‘toe of the boot’. It is easily characterized by its flaming red hue, obtained by one of its main ingredients, the region’s native Calabrian red chillies.
What are the origins of ‘nduja?
The first production of ‘nduja came about at the beginning of the 1800’s when Italian pig farmers, not wanting any food to go to waste, would use the less prized cuts of meat such as the intestines, lungs, and stomach to make this sausage. This lends itself to the theory that ‘nduja was named after the French ‘andouille’ sausage, also made with pork offal and introduced by Napoleon and his troops when they targeted Calabria in 1807. The Calabrian’s undoubtedly thought the sausage needed more of a kick, hence the addition of the fiery Calabrian chillies!
During the mid-20th century, Calabrians who had emigrated to Northern Italy and across the world began to introduce ‘nduja to the world, sparking the culinary phenomenon of today!
How is ‘nduja made?
Nowadays, ‘nduja is no longer made with off-cuts, instead, during the winter months, 'nduja is made from a complex recipe using lard, finely chopped pancetta and guanciale – a cured meat made from pork cheeks, dried & fresh herbs and of course, Calabrian red chillies. Incredibly, due to the antiseptic & antioxidant powers of the chillies, zero dyes or preservatives are needed in the sausage mixture.
After being fed into the casing, the ‘nduja is lightly smoked with aromatic herbs, in addition to with olive, oak or acacia wood, and is then left to naturally cure for three to six months.
What is ‘nduja used in?
'Nduja sausage is extremely versatile for cooking, from spooning generous dollops as a pizza topping, spicing up a pasta dish or lavishly spreading the fiery sausage onto a piece of toast, 'nduja never fails to transform a dish with its meaty, umami flavours.
Our favourite ‘nduja pasta recipes
Whether it’s adding heat to a creamy sauce, or richness to a ravioli filling, ‘nduja has a myriad of uses. Here’s three of our favourite ‘nduja pasta recipes:
Fancy making your own filled pasta? This is a recipe worth making time for. Celebrating some of the finest ingredients of the Italian South, our ‘nduja and burrata tortelloni pairs the fiery richness of ‘nduja with creamy, fresh burrata – traditionally crafted by artisan cheesemakers in Puglia, the ‘heel’ of Italy’s ‘boot’. Finished with an earthy sage butter sauce, this recipe will transport you to the stunning Italian South.
Although this spicy sausage pasta recipe isn’t strictly traditional, it does lovingly combine ingredients from several regions of Italy: Calabrian ‘nduja, Campania’s famous Amalfi lemons and mascarpone from northern Lombardy. The fiery ‘nduja is tempered by the zesty lemon and mellow mascarpone, creating a beautifully balanced sauce. Paired with fresh tagliatelle, this dish is both sumptuous and impressive, and demonstrates the best of Italian ingredients.
In these delicious ravioli we marry together the flavours of southern and northern Italy, pairing rich and fiery Calabrian ‘nduja with the fruity tang of Taleggio cheese (which hails from the Alpine valleys of Lombardy). The result is some seriously savoury ravioli that need little more than a dressing of butter and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.