Thursday, April 8, 2010
Arrival of the Nduja
Remember my post of a couple of weeks ago, "Nduja. Salumi Quandry"? Well, after taking the advice of some of my sage readers (consult the comments in the original post) and finding a lower cost purveyor to order from, my Boccalone Nduja arrived in the mail a few days ago. I first became aware of this particular porky item via the New York Times article on the subject. Nduja is sort of a fad among the small subsection of the population that is salumi mad. Needless to say, I was in an excited state to have laid hands on some nduja.
Here we have the approx. 8 ounces of nduja out of the package.
I sliced a small portion off of the end. The aroma is interesting. Funky in a good, salumi sort of way and you can catch a whiff of the citrus. It feels and looks a little like processed, potted meat to tell you the truth.
I took a taste of the chilled nduja. It has sort of a grainy texture, not unpleasantly so, with a flavor that is aggressively salty. It is spicy, but does not have the fire that I expected (and kind of hoped for). You can taste the fact that there is a high fat content, and some odd bits and ends of pig working in there. All in all pretty good. I found it to have a rather more refined, general "Italian" salumi type flavor if that makes any sense.
Reading up on serving ideas, you find that it is often served warm and spread on bread. I heated a small amount and scooped it up with a cracker.
I preferred it slightly warm. The nduja does get very greasy upon heating, and I don't think I could eat more than a couple tablespoons at a time. All this said, it is something different and I'm glad I tried it. I am going to share the remaining portion with friends, and also add some to a pasta sauce (the other oft described manner of serving).
Was the nduja worth the the rather large investment to have it shipped to my door? Probably not, but I was very curious about the stuff and now I kind of know what it is about. I have seen a couple recipes for home production, so maybe I will give making some a whirl.
Something that I took away from the Times article is how funny it is that Italian "cucina povera" items like nduja are turned into expensive, "gourmet" products in America. Apparently, in Calabria nduja is looked upon sort of how we would look at Spam or Vienna sausages. A cheap, not altogether socially acceptable, food that you should be just a little ashamed of eating.