The way we make nduja (pronounced en-doo-ya) at Autumn Yard is, as a rule, to use a lot of fat. They say, ‘the devil sings the best tunes’, and when it comes to nduja it’s all too true.
Although there’s a lot more to it than just that…
The actual mix is around 30% fresh chilli puree, plus a little salt and a few spices, all tied up in a salami casing and left to mature for around a month. Although the statement above might strike fear into the heart of your average nutritionist or dietician, it’s this high fat content that not only gives it it’s spreadable like texture but also means that it has high number of uses in the cooks artillery. It can be used in much the same way as any other solid fats like butter or beef dripping, with the added flavour advantage of that spicy tang!
No doubt you have heard of a chefs trick of mixing butter with herbs and garlic and stuffing it under the skin of a chicken? Well simply substitute the that with around 1-2 tbsp of nduja (getting the nduja up to room temperature will make this step easier) or more if you like it very spicy. Season the outside of the chicken as you would usually and roast it in the oven the way you usually like to (I prefer a 20 min blast at the hottest temp possible, then turn the oven down to 150C). Crack the oven door and chuck in a mug of tea’s worth of hot water to the base of the oven before closing it again and wait around 1-1.5 hours until fully cooked). This makes a great spicy and colourful addition to a classic.
As I mentioned, nduja has a lot of uses other than just adorning some toast (nduja on toast with honey is good place to start incidentally) or on pizza/through pasta sauce (traditional ways of using in italy where the recipe originates). If you place a little nugget in the pan at the end of cooking almost anything it will coat the outside of whatever you’re heating. Try braising gem lettuce with a liberal shaving of parmesan (use a peeler, it’s better, trust me!), white wine and nduja. Next time you make a casserole, through in that last little piece you’ve got tucked away in the fridge door. Pan frying some asparagus? Chuck it in there too! Basically, if there’s heat you can add some nduja to it. Also see the recipe for pumpkin soup.