When I first asked for 'nduja at the market stall, I was warned that it is incredibly potent and not to be messed with. He was right. Fiery and intense this spreadable pork salumi from Italy contains pork belly and shoulder as well as herbs and mixture of spices including a generous amount of Calabrian chilli peppers. It is usually served with bread and cheese.
’Nduja is available from The Real Olive Company in The English Market in Cork or at farmers’ markets around the country, Fallon & Byrne, some SuperValu stores and specialist Italian delicatessens. The Real Olive Company use it in toasted sandwiches and on their legendary pizzas at their Toonsbridge base in Co Cork.
There are so many ways to use it and one piece will last in the fridge for months. Try frying it and scatter it over soft creamy cheeses such as burrata or a really good mozzarella. Add a little to the mince mix when you make homemade burgers, or fry a little then add it to the pot when steaming mussels. It goes really well with seafood, especially sweet crabmeat. Add it to a potato or root vegetable hash. A little goes a long way with this punchy paste and it’s quite cheap too.
At a pinch, if you cannot source it, I suggest using crumbled chorizo and add some chilli flakes to this recipe. Or better yet, add a splash of Rebel Chilli’s barrell-aged hot sauce. We have been adding it to everything lately. It’s sweet, hot and has a hint of whiskey flavour from the West Cork Distillers casks that it is aged in. My kids pass it around the table daring one another to shake even more of it on their dinner. My four-year-old would put it on her porridge if I let her.
I love having a really good-quality product like ’nduja in my fridge. It means I can whip up a flavour-packed dish in no time, with very few ingredients. Dishes such as this will be the way to eat for future food: using a little meat, and not just the choice cuts, almost as a garnish, and making the most of one tablespoon of ’nduja and filling the plate with vegetables.
Dan Barber’s book The Third Plate echoes this sentiment. The Third Plate is where good farming and good food intersect and we don’t choose to just eat chicken breasts but instead acknowledge that there is a lot more to the chicken and every scrap should be used. Ideally, farmers and growers would be listened too, and we would all eat seasonally and more sustainably. An ideal future for food.
’NDUJA EGGS WITH CURLY KALE
3 tbsp butter
4 slices sourdough bread
2-4 free-range eggs
1 tbsp 'nduja
2 large handfuls of curly kale
1 Remove the centre rib from the kale and chop it finely. Wash it well and set it aside. Don't dry it completely.
2 Melt one tablespoon of butter in a wide frying pan. Add the kale and stir evenly to coat. The kale will wilt and turn bright green. Cook for a few minutes then set it aside and keep it warm.
3 Add one more tablespoon of butter to the frying pan over medium heat. Crack in the eggs. Cook for a minute before adding the 'nduja. Crumble it anywhere there is space for it to fry. Move it around with a wooden spoon to render the fat and crisp it up without it burning. Cook the eggs till the white is just set, then remove the pan from the heat.
4 Meanwhile toast the bread and butter it. Place on a plate and top with the kale, fried eggs and 'nduja, along with any of the chilli oil that is in the pan.