When it comes to meaty pasta sauces, does it seem like there's nothing new under the sun? We've all had creamy chicken alfredo, monster meatballs in marinara, slow-braised beef ragu, and some version of cacio a pepe. Maybe you've even sauteed a bit of cured, dried salami into a sauce for a hint of funk. But there is a not-so-secret cousin of salami, a sausage that defies definition, that can transform any number of different Italian pasta sauces. We're talking about the supremely spreadable, ultra-rich Calabrian pork specialty, 'nduja.
Inverting the fat-to-meat ratio that guides most sausages, 'nduja isn't the kind for slicing into neat rounds or grilling in links. No, this one, which is spiced with fiery chilies, gets smeared across chunks of crusty bread, traditionally speaking. But 'nduja can just as easily be sauteed for a sauce, with its fine chunks of pork meat crisping in the copious, red-tinged fat that it gives off.
In fact, 'nduja can be a sauce pretty much all by itself. Start by dropping it into a skillet over medium heat and letting it render. Once the fat is melted down and the meat is beginning to sizzle, add in sliced or minced onions and cook until translucent. A bit of minced garlic and a splash of vinegar or lemon juice to offset the richness can also be added before tossing with your favorite pasta for a simple weeknight meal. But 'nduja's utility doesn't end there.
Read more: 26 Types Of Pasta Sauce Explained
'Nduja Works With A Variety Of Sauces
We love 'nduja for a great many reasons, not least of which is how seamlessly it blends into pasta sauces of all stripes. It is important to keep in mind the flavor profile of the ingredient, though. 'Nduja is rich and spicy, so when using it, pull back on other fats, like olive oil or butter and additional hints of spice. Once you understand what it brings, 'nduja is relatively simple to work with.
The classic marinara sauce is a staple in Italian cuisine, known for its vibrant and tangy tomato flavor. To infuse a spicy twist into this timeless sauce, start with the above tip for sauteing onions and aromatics with 'nduja and simply add crushed tomatoes and simmer for a tangy, savory balance. Similarly, creamy vodka sauce can be taken to new heights with the addition of 'nduja. As you saute onions and garlic, introduce 'nduja to the mix, allowing its spicy oils to infuse the base. Pour in the cream, tomato sauce, and vodka as usual, and let the 'nduja work its magic.
Bucatini all'amatriciana, traditionally made with guanciale (cured hog jowl), is a classic Roman dish that you can give a contemporary twist by substituting 'nduja for the cured meat. Render the 'nduja in the pan, allowing its oils to spice up the sauce. The result is a modern amatriciana that retains the essence of the original but with a fiery kick that adds depth and complexity.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.