Watch out, chorizo – there's a 'ndu sausage on the block
First thing's first: how do I say it?
"EN-DOO-YA". Or to be truly authentic, forget the 'N' and just say "DOO-YA". As in, "Do ya want to eat a delicious meat product?"
We're not going to lie – unlike the product itself, it's a hard word to get your chops around. But learn and you shall be rewarded.
What is it?
Fiery, spreadable Italian pork sausage, occupying a happy place somewhere between salami, chorizo and pâté. A Calabrian delicacy, 'nduja is usually made from finely ground pork shoulder or belly mixed with pork fat, head meat and other offal, flavoured with sweet, smoky roasted peppers, chilli and spices and cured for several weeks.
It was originally a poor man's alternative to French Andouille sausage; but once you taste some, it's hard to imagine 'nduja being a poor anything. In fact, compared to the average British banger, it's a very rich relation.
What do I do with it?
That meltingly soft texture makes 'nduja a fantastic team-playing ingredient, bringing rich umami spiciness to a whole range of dishes.
Just a spoonful can turn a basic store cupboard pasta sauce into the kind of dinner you dream about for weeks afterwards. Add a dollop to tomato-based stews, a splodge to your barbecue marinades or little dab to your scrambled eggs for next-level breakfast. Smear some into a cheese toastie and thank us later.
It's not just a meat companion, either – that warm, peppery sweetness pairs beautifully with crab and other shellfish, and makes a pizza topping so good it'll laugh pepperoni right off your plate. But being Italian, 'nduja's very best friend is a simple loaf of bread. Spread it on and spread the word.
Where can I eat it?
If you want to put some fire in your belly before you attempt some 'nduja tricks at home, your best bet is seeking out a slice of the action at a good pizzeria.
'The 'Nduja' has become the signature pizza at London's Pizza Pilgrims. "On our pizza pilgrimage through Italy we visited the town of Spilinga in Calabria where 'nduja is made – such a wonderful discovery," says co-founder Thom Elliot. "It works so well on pizza as it is has such a great spicy, meaty flavour and all the oil oozes out while it cooks so the amazing flavour spreads across the whole pizza (and probably on to your shirt as well)."
Meanwhile at Source in Battersea you can eat 'nduja on toast, piled high with tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, or with steamed mussels and fennel at Elliot's in Borough, or mixed with molten cheese and heaped on top of fries at Bad Egg. Oh boy.
Where can I buy it?
Try an Italian delicatessen like the famous Lina Stores in Soho for an authentic 'nduja sausage, or cheat and buy it in a jar like this one from Carluccio's. Keep an eye on your supermarket meat counter, too – if 'nduja's not there within a year, we'll eat our hat.
Help! I need more inspiration
More than putting it on toast and then in your mouth? Fine, if you insist. Take a tip from one of these creative recipes for 'nduja to seduce ya …
Squid-ink tagliatelle with 'nduja and clams
Grilled sourdough with 'nduja, smashed broad beans and green garlic
Hot sausage, cool mozzarella, fresh greens and crusty bread – a marriage made in cheese on toast heaven in this 'nduja recipe from Gourmet Traveller. Bruschetta that actually constitutes a proper meal? Smashed it.
Spicy Brussels sprouts with 'nduja sausage and mushrooms
Yes, what better way to kick our most controversial greens into touch than with a helping of Italian heat? This recipe from Susan Eats London uses the piquant, peppery pork goodness of 'nduja to turn the humble sprout into something pretty special. Christmas just got a whole lot more interesting.