Updated: Jan 3, 2021
Let's start it easy: Calabria is a region, located SW of Italy, across Sicily. 'Nduja is a spicy 'salami' mixed with Calabrian chili peppers. It is spicy and you can eat on bread, cheese or add in your tomato sauce.
Is ‘Nduja a chili pepper pesto?
Not quite, it is a soft salami or sausage that was mixed with local Calabrian chili peppers and aged from minimum 3 months to a maximum of 6 months. The meat or salami is made out of the fatty parts of the pork, like cheeks, pancetta, belly and others. The pig is always outside, free and is fed with local natural foods, such as olive groves, grains from the Calabrian soil.
How do you eat this?
Typically you add in the tomato sauce for the pasta, then you call: Pasta all pomodoro con “Nduja. I made potato and pasta with cherry tomatoes, an interpretation of a recipe in Calabria. You may eat the 'Nduja with a piece of potato. It is magic!
You can be creative.
These are ceramic holders, made for 'Nduja. Instruction of use: light the candle, wait until the ceramic is warm to hot, then add a tea spoon of 'Nduja, wait until it gets warm and spread on bread or cheese. I found this at FICO Bologna, by stand Calabria of "Tipicheria Calabrese"
Why are some products called “N’duja di Spilinga”?
First of all, it is been said, that the original ’Nduja are produced in Spilinga, located in the western part of the region, south west of Vibo Valentina (see map). The main economy in Spilinga is the breeding of “suino nero”, black pigs. Then they add the chili peppers from the northern part of Calabria (Cosenza).
Where is Calabria?
Calabria is located basically across Sicily and it is the tip of toe of the boot, the last region on the south, west coast.
In other words, ‘Nduja is produced only in Calabria.
Yes, although there is no official denomination to protect it, in order to be called ‘Nduja, it has to contain the local Calabrian chili pepper. The intense red and the hot spiciness of the chili, that once it touches your palate, you feel the “piccante” slowly, it is not extremely hot like other chili peppers that you find in other parts of the world. The peppers are grown in the province of Cosenza (middle septentrional of the region of Calabria), mainly in the municipality of San Marco Argentano and Roggiano Gravina.
Is ‘Nduja, a word from local dialect?
Yes, distinctively from Calabria, adopted by a French word “andouille” (sausage made out of tripes and rest from the pig), during the Napoleonic wars, introduced by general Gioacchino Murat, king of Napoli, after the unification of Italy. Photo credits to "Suino Nero Made and savigni" at FICO, Bologna.