Why We’re Obsessed With ‘Nduja, the Spreadable Salami
This is the spicy, secret ingredient you need to bring some zing to your holiday charcuterie board
Easy to love, hard to pronounce, ‘nduja has quickly taken its place next to prosciutto, pepperoni and soppressata as the best meats for your charcuterie board. With a spicy, savory flavor reminiscent of chorizo, ‘nduja falls somewhere between a salami and a spread. In fact, it’s both, making ‘nduja an amazing addition to your charcuterie board to spread on bread or crackers, next to the creamy cheeses and salty meats.
What Is ‘Nduja?
‘Nduja is a spicy cured Italian sausage that is spiked with Calabrian chilies to give it a red sheen. It’s soft and spreadable, sort of like French pâté. “It’s possible you’ve enjoyed ‘nduja in dishes before, without being able to pinpoint exactly where that ever-so-slightly funky, meaty taste was coming from,” says Serious Eats. It’s also possible that if you’ve enjoyed ‘nduja once, you’re hooked.
‘Nduja originates from Calabria in southern Italy. Poor farmers in the region had to make do with the leftover offal and fatty scraps after they sold the prime cuts of pork. They added a mix of spices to these leftovers, stuffed it into a casing, then cured and fermented it, transforming it into a delicious foodstuff that had a long shelf life. Because of the high-fat content and the chili peppers, ‘nduja never becomes firm like typical salami.
How Do You Pronounce ‘Nduja?
Don’t feel self-conscious about saying “en-DOO-ya,” which is how you pronounce this strange word that begins with an apostrophe. Five years ago, no one else knew how to pronounce it, either. Linguistically, there is a link to the French andouille sausage, even though ‘nduja comes from Italy.
How Do You Use ‘Nduja?
A charcuterie board is certainly not the only way to serve ‘nduja. “The answer is that you can—and probably should—be incorporating this stuff into almost everything you cook,” according to Serious Eats. If you think of it as less of a meat and more of a spread or a condiment, the same way you’d use chili crisp or other sauces that add umami, the possibilities are endless.
In the morning, put ‘nduja into a super-stuffed omelet or a brunch frittata. Add it to the batter for scones, biscuits or muffins to create a savory baked good with a rich, meaty flavor. You can also throw it into tomato or cream-based pasta sauces—the same way you might use regular sausage—to add a little extra spice and depth of flavor. Most popularly, ‘nduja has become an in-demand pizza topping, giving your homemade pizza a fiery zing.
If you store ‘nduja in the refrigerator, wrap it in plastic as well as pop it into an airtight container to keep it fresh for months. On the other hand, ‘nduja will only keep for a couple of weeks if stored at room temperature.
Where and How Do I Buy ‘Nduja?
Now that ‘nduja is becoming mainstream, you can find it at major retailers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. But, it’s important to know how to tell the good stuff from the not-so-good. According to Serious Eats, good ‘nduja won’t ever have more than three or four ingredients: pork, salt, chilies, and in America, lactic acid (an ingredient required by the FDA for fermented sausages). Some retailers now just call it “spicy spreadable salami.” But now that you can pronounce it, you can ask for ‘nduja by name.