'Nduja: from Cinderella to the undisputed queen of the Italian salami

Yes, that's right: the 'nduja, the famous Calabrian salami (the name derives from the Latin term that means "induce" introduce), is certainly born as the Cinderella of all products derived from the processing of pork.

Many stories and legends alternate on the origins of this sought-after Calabrian sausage; the most likely is certainly the one that tells of his first appearance thanks to the small "waste thefts" made by some workers in the kitchens of one of the countless manors or castles that underpin various areas of Calabria.

In the past, this precious mixture of finely ground meat and pork fat, mixed with spicy chili pepper, was made exclusively with pork waste and cuts of meat reserved for other processing. After having been patiently kneaded, the mixture was stuffed into the grape, which is the "blind" part of the pig's gut not useful for sausages and soppressata. With this in mind, it is clear that this delicious sausage was produced with all the less "noble" parts of the pig, which were unusable scraps and therefore destined for the bowls of the dogs or of the pigs themselves.

This is how the legend of these small "thefts" of wastes, stolen from the sumptuous castles, was born. Those workers were "called" to work only during the slaughter of pigs to prepare supplies for a whole year, they were not real employees of the noble on duty and therefore, if poorly controlled, they could certainly perpetrate these thefts of waste and take advantage of it to make an appetizing and tasty product.

Today, thanks to the growing demand, the best parts of both meat and pork fat are reserved for the production of 'nduja. For the gut it is still used the orga (orga, loriva, lorva, orba etc.), which is a particular "blind" casing - that is, a bag - that can contain 2 to 6 kilograms of dough. This casing must be carefully filled by the mixture of ‘nduja, following its innumerable folds and letting all internal air come out.

Although now the 'nduja is also produced by large butcher shops and small industries, it still maintains the characteristics of an artisanal and natural products. For its production the meat and pork fat are finely chopped and then, strictly by hand, they are kneaded together adding the right amount of some native spices, like salt and spicy chili pepper. The result is a soft and homogeneous mixture that will be put into the casing and finally smoked.

Today the "Cinderella" secretly escaped from the castle has become "queen" undisputed and it can proudly cross the main door to reach the kitchen and participate, as an absolute protagonist, in the making of many dishes. It can be served as an appetizer spread on hot bruschettas or as an ingredient for a spicy sauce, then it can be also proposed as a second course accompanied by semi-mature cheeses, on a bed of roast caciocavallo or in the making of egg omelettes.

These are just a few examples but there are countless uses for this excellent Italian food of the Calabrian tradition created by lovers of spicy foods but not only. The ‘nduja is in fact one of the very few cured meats appreciated by many for its very special and unmistakable taste.