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March 23, 2012

'Nduja: get a little spice in life

The Smoking Goose is bringing the real heat to this early summer with a spicy new salame that's got a real kick.

That kick comes from the toe of the boot...geographically speaking. In southern Italy's region of Calabria they've been layering heat with local peppers and pork to make a soft, spicy salame with a long history.

Some say the short & stout salame was influenced by the French centuries ago while others are sure it was roving Spaniards who influenced early Calabrians along the coasts. It's hard to argue the origins with our mouths full, but maybe the biggest clue is it's name. The locals in the old country call this salame 'Nduja -- pronounced kinda like in-do-yha -- which brings some of the same sounds as andouille, the French salame that some hungry historians are sure inspired 'Nduja.

With the original 'Nduja as our inspiration, we're making our own all-local Indiana version. Like the traditional Italian salame, we started by grinding and blending pork shoulder, belly and jowl. We spiked the rich, soft mixture with dried Calabrian peppers then stuffed natural casings that are about 3 or 4 inches wide, like the Italians use. Here's where we made it our own: our 'Nduja saw the inside of our gravity-fed cold smoker for 10 days before dry curing for 8 weeks.

That layer of sweet smoke rounds out the delicious bite of hot, floral, and earthy Calabrian peppers for a slice that's a little more firm than the original 'Nduja but layered with even more intense and complex flavors. The soft center of the salame is spreadable on warm bread for a simple first course, but since our 'Nduja is firm enough to slice paper thin, we'll take it to top a pizza, dress a salad or soup, or stir into sauce for cut pasta or lasagna. Come to the Meat Locker quick before this batch of 'Nduja disappears.

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