‘Nduja. What is it? Well, up till about a week ago I had no idea, but now I know… and I’m hooked.
‘Nduja (pronounced n-du-ya) is basically a ready to eat spreadable spicy sausage, made with pork. It is unique to the Calabria region of Italy, and is said to be the Calabrian version of salami. The name ‘nduja originates from the French word “andouille”, which means “sausage”.
Photo courtesy of Unearthed
‘Nduja is made with various parts of pork (including the shoulder, belly, tripe and jowl) and hot red peppers. The abundance of red peppers make the ‘nduja rather spicy, but thankfully it doesn’t make your mouth feel like it’s on fire… on the contrary, it has a rather pleasant aftertaste of pepper heat.
There are many ways to eat this spicy sausage – as it is spreadable, it can be used as a spread for bread or crackers (or you can eat it with a spoon, like I did). However, it is much more than a spicy sausage spread – it can be used to season a range of foods, and I’ve even seen it used as a crust for baked fish!
Unearthed kindly sent me a sample of ‘nduja, and invited me to take part in a ‘nduja recipe challenge. Along with four other (very talented) bloggers, I had to come up with an innovative way to cook ‘nduja…. and I definitely had fun trying to figure out what to do with it (apart from snacking on it, that is)!
I was inspired by one of my favourite Malaysian snacks when trying to figure out how to use the ‘nduja – the humble curry puff. Curry puffs are small ‘pies’/puffs filled with a spicy curry chicken and potato mix. They are traditionally deep dried, and are not all that dissimilar to empanadas. I think most Malaysian kids grew up snacking on these, and it’s definitely something that reminds me of home. I do seem to be more sentimental about home lately – and as a result always try to cook things that remind me of home.
But I digress. Back to the ‘nduja. Instead of using curry powder and chillies to flavour my puff fillings, I used ‘nduja… and I must say that it turned out really well! I also happened to have some leftover roast chicken in my fridge, so I added it to the potato and ‘nduja mixture.
I must admit to sneaking quite a lot of the puff fillings in the process of making these ‘nduja puffs – it was ridiculously addictive and I kept on dipping my spoon into the bowl to eat more mouthfuls of the spicy potato mixture. Thankfully I’d intentionally made more filing that I would need, maybe I foresaw my snacking!
But yes, ‘nduja and me, we have become fast friends. If you haven’t tried it, do look out for it the next time you’re grocery shopping (I believe the Unearthed ‘nduja is currently available in Waitrose, you may also find ‘nduja in specialty Italian delis) – I suspect you’ll like it as much as I do.
And of course, if you do like my recipe, please vote for it on the Unearthed Facebook page here. Thank you! The prize is a selection of Unearthed goodies and a KitchenAid blender – something I’ve been yearning for for a long time now!
Makes approximately 30 puffs
For the filling:
- 2 potatoes, peeled and diced into 5mm cubes
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 60g ‘nduja (I used Unearthed ‘nduja)
- 30g cooked chicken, shredded (optional)
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp corn oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
For the pastry:
- 500g puff pastry (storebought)
- 1 egg, beaten (for glazing)
To make the filling:
1. Heat oil in a pan over medium high heat. Fry the diced onion until they start to brown and become fragrant.
2. Add the diced potatoes and smoked paprika. Fry for 10-15 minutes, until they start to soften.
3. Add the ‘nduja and chicken (if using) to the pan. Use your spatula to break up the ‘nduja into smaller pieces to ensure they are distributed throughout the potato mixture. Cook for a further 5 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.
4. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Set aside. The filling will need to cool before the puffs can be assembled.
To assemble the ‘nduja puffs:
6. Roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of 5mm. Cut 3 inch circles from the pastry until all the puff pastry has been used up.
7. Hold a pastry round in one hand, and place 1 tablespoon of the ‘nduja/potato filling in the centre of the circle of pastry. Fold into a half moon shape, and press the edges together to form a tight seal.
8. Crimp the edges of the pastry.
9. Repeat until all the puff pastry is used up. If you do not wish to eat all the puffs in one go, you can refrigerate or freeze them for future use.
To cook the ‘nduja puffs:
10. Heat the oven to 190’C.
11. Lightly beat an egg in a bowl, and glaze the puffs lightly with egg.
12. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the pastry puffs up and turns golden brown. Eat warm.