New Life of ‘Nduja in the Kitchen

18.11.2018

A SLOW EVOLUTION 

From its beginning, a poor street salami, to the symbol of Calabrian gastronomy,  ‘nduja has become an almost international product, known not only in Spilinga, in the province of Vibo Valentia, but all over Italy and Europe, crossing regional borders in the last twenty years.

It is a food with a long history, so much so that the first traces lead to the nineteenth century. Very poor origin, even the etymology could date back to that period, with possible derivation from “andouille”; the hypothesis is based on the presence of the Napoleonic army in Calabria. That “andouille” was a French sausage based on tripe (and not only) pork.

Nowadays, ‘nduja is a sausage based on pork entrails which, once seasoned, is cut into slices, boiled, cut into small pieces and used to flavor soups (wild fennel, cabbage, beans).

Today the ‘nduja is produced throughout all the region of Calabria, is a spreadable salami demonized by dieticians for its fat content, unsuitable for palates not prone to spicy, loved by everyone else. Indeed, one of its basic ingredient is chilli pepper, which in Calabria is cultivated, especially, on the plateau of Monte Poro, where Spilinga stands.

 

THE RECIPE

The “recipe” of the ‘ndujais simple. Its realization is however complex: the play of balance between lean and fat meat, between sweet and spicy pepper and between meat, hot pepper and salt is made complicated by the degree of spiciness, which varies significantly even among fruits born from the same plant. The artisan can not follow precise doses and therefore to help him, more than the balance, are the experience and the taste.

It is its advantage the uselessness of adding preservatives of any kind: it is just the bactericidal function of the pepper to guarantee food safety.

At the contrary, certain excesses are an eventual defect of ‘nduja. Indeed, a very unbalanced portion  of salami or the amount of capsaicin (the substance that determines the degree of spiciness) can be often capable to cover the taste of meat and to anesthetize the palate throughout the meal.

It is not, as you might think, a choice made to reduce costs: the chilli, in fact, is much more expensive than meat. Therefore, the secret of a good ‘nduja lies in the correct balance between its components.

However, this is a necessary but not sufficient condition to obtain a perfect salami: in fact, another important role is played by duration of meat processing, which is used to prevent fat rancidity (a rather common defect in low-level products).

Then comes the time of packaging inside the “orba” (the small intestine of the pig, used for the larger size sausages, which are considered the best). Alternatively, is used the “crespone”, a thinner casing, suitable for small-cut nduja.

The bagging phase is completely manual.

The aging lasts from 45 to 90 days and is mainly used to dry the dough which, thanks to the high percentage of fat, is always soft. Some artisans add a further organoleptic note through a slight smoking that contributes to the roundness of taste.

The ‘nduja is not produced only in Spilinga, even if it is right here that a good number of quality craftsmen is concentrated there. In Acri, at the foot of the Sila, is indeed present a certain amount of companies; theirs is a small-scale activity and for this reason it can afford a very short supply chain: Calabrian black pigs reared at home and fed with cereals produced on the farm, sweet and spicy pepper grown in the land owned, small machines (al maximum 60 kg of dough at a time, to prevent it from heating up during preparation). The production phase is rapid: no more than a week passes from the time of slaughter to maturing.

 

THE NEW LIFE OF ‘NDUJA IN THE KITCHEN

The success of the ‘nduja also passes for its rediscovery by the chefs. ‘Nduja, bread and red wine are a typical combination which enriches plates of pasta with sauce of tomatoes and onions, taken at the market, adding also the perfume of mint and bay leaf.

‘Nduja shall be melt over a low flame, mixing it with the pasta in the sauce and at the end sprinkling it with smoked ricotta or semi-seasoned pecorino, being also recommends to never cook the salami but only to heat it, in such a way to facilitate its break-up.

These dishes are the reinterpretation of a traditional Sunday dish, the macaroni with underwire with pork sauce and ‘nduja.

In the home cooking, moreover, ‘nduja has many other uses: in bean soup, spread on bruschetta, mixed with sheep’s ricotta, in the salad of ripe tomatoes enriched by two other products symbol of Calabrian gardens like oregano and onion Tropea.

 

IN THE STREET FOOD

The decided taste of ‘nduja is also a protagonist in the street food world: calzoni, panzerotti, potato croquettes, arancini, supplì, pizzas.

In the street it is a truly extraordinary dish, tasting ‘nduja in combination with a glass of “Pecorello”, an indigenous white vine, or with another local wine, Abbruzzino, accompanying it with an excellent bread kneaded with ‘nduja and, in the autumn, with an emulsion of porcini mushrooms.

New Frontiers: Olive Oil DNA certification

17.11.2018

NEW TEST, NEW PROTECTION OF QUALITY

Do you remember certifications like IGP (in Italian: “Indicazione Geografica Protetta”, Geographic Protection) and DOP (“Denominazione di Origine Protetta”, Protection of Origin and Denomination)?

Now we have a new one: the DNA certification.

Indeed, in order to give the consumer guarantees that an extra-virgin olive oil is one hundred percent Italian, laboratories can perform a DNA test, directly on the product.

Everyone knows that the oil is one of the leading products of the Italian food sector, that many initiatives are dedicated to it; and today comes an extra certification.

The Italian National Center for Research (CNR) carried out a global mapping of the DNA of the various olive agricultural varieties, which researchers can compare with the fragments extracted from the oil to be certified. Thus, the consumer can obtain a guarantee of the provenance of the product, but also of the company itself.

The project was born in the province of Perugia upon request of a single farm, “Monte Vibiano Vecchio Castle farm”. The scientific survey, however, was performed by the laboratory of the Institute of Biosciences and Bio-resources of CNR in Perugia, which obtained the patent to proceed with this type of test.

The oil of the Monte Vibiano Vecchio Castle farm has now this new  DNA certification, performed by the Institute of Biosciences and Bioresources of the CNR of Perugia, where Giuseppe Cultrera, CNR researcher, declared that after many years CNR managed to create a national patent for this type of oil extraction.

At the moment, there is no commercially available kits, able to simulate the same exam. Further, Giuseppe Cutrera declared that CNR has succeeded in developing molecular markers of the latest generation that allow laboratories to apply the test on DNA coming from the fat matrix of olive oil.

 

NEW FRONTIER

The process of DNA testing on olive oil is the first worldwide molecular certification for an oil. It was announced, for the first time in the world, in the month of November 2018 at Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio in Umbria.

The new generation test will be a new frontier of research and, at the same time, an invincible technological tool to counter the food sophistication, commercial frauds, falsification of labels and traces of origin, not only for olive oil, but for every kind of food in the future.

The owner of Castello Monte Vibiano Vecchio, Lorenzo Fasola Bologna, has declared that the test was applied, for the first time, on his own production of 15 thousand plants. In addition the DNA certification adds to the Monte Vibiano Protocol, which is used by other producers in order to olive oil, so that, after DNA certification, is both for the farm and for the consumer sure that a 100 percent Umbrian oil arrives to his table.

The company is also known for launching in 2008 the “360° Green Revolution” which has made it the first zero emissions CO2 farm in the world with UNI ISO 14064 certification.