In the Likeness of ‘Nduja

In the Likeness of ‘Nduja

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Designation of this product as “In the likeness of ‘Nduja” instead of simply ‘Nduja owns to the requirements of the Denominazione di Origine Controllata.  Yet, legal niceties aside, what is ‘Nduja? Rules, regulations, and content of the “official” recipes change over time per one trend or another.  The amount of salt for sausages – especially dry-cured ones – a century ago significantly differs from just few decades ago, and those – from today’s recipes.  Any claim of “authentic” recipe needs to be adjusted to the status of a mere guideline.  In the case of ‘Nduja, this can be summarized in the following:

‘Nduja is a spreadable, cold-smoked sausage with 91 to 10 fat to lean ration of pork with 30% of hot\sweet peppers. The rest is simply variations on the theme.
In my version, the combinations of peppers included “Ghost”; the one that is not Holy, just chili. Cabernet Franc with Bulleit bourbon with some other ingredients (Piment D’espelette and such) did hurt either.

Recipe:
Pork belly — 3657gr; back fat — 751gr; they were cubed and mixed with the following: sea salt — 2.75%; cure#2 — 0.25%.  After day in fridge, everything passed through 5mm grinder. Then, I’ve  added 13%, (50\50) hot to sweet ratio calabrian pepper powder, 1.7% Piment D’espelette, 0.05%  Bhut Jolikia (Ghost Chile) powder; 0.47%cayenne pepper, 922gr sweet Hungarian paprika (Kaloesa), 3.47% crushed chili Thai powder, 0.3%,  dextrose.

After mixing and passing through the grinder again, I’ve added T-XPS and plenty of Cabernet Franc with Bulleit (10 years aged version) bourbon. Staffed in end cups; three days of fermentation; around 7 hours of drying in fridge; three days (with some rest) of cold-smoke over pecan with hickory.

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Then ‘nduja went to the Curing Chamber.
After three month, I’ve removed the first at the weight loss 22%.

Preliminary Results: 1) It’s too hot for the slavic palate. For immediate consumption, it would make sense to omit the Ghost chili and make it 60 to 40 ratio of hot to sweet pepper powder. I immediately tried this ‘Nduja on a sandwich with coffee in the morning, but had to switch to chilled wine to cool off the effect.2) Yet, ‘Nduja is balanced in a weird way. After the initial burst of “heat-attack”, it changes to different tones of “heat”; then — sweetness, moderate acidity, and — strangely enough — richness through which I can clearly detect the note of Piment D’espelette. If it would be less hot, the complexity that I enjoy after the heat subsides would make this a masterpiece of the art of gluttony.

The second ‘Nduja was kept in the Curing Chamber for additional six month. By that time, the heat did not subside much. Yet, smokiness started playing bigger role. The weight loss was the same as in the first one, 22%. Hence, all this time ‘Nduja was just mellowing and maturing.


I’ve removed the sausages from the casing (the casing themselves are a great addition to soups or beans), but did not vacuum sealed it. Rather, it was placed in few jars and kept in refrigerator. Once opened, white mold appeared after few months in one jar; there was no such development in the rest. In over a year or year and half since these two “Ndujas finished their dry-curing, I still have some left. When applied judiciously, it goes well on sandwiches; after all this time, the heat has subsided, but only a bit. For me, this over-spicy version of ‘Nduja works great as an addition to the number of dishes. Yet, all false modesty aside, I’ve gifted some to few friends whose palate is more accustomed to the heat than my Eastern European. They have been asking where they could buy this product ever since…

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