Nduja Is The Pork Paste That Will Take Your Next Pizza Over The Top

Everybody has their personal pizza preferences, from austere one-topping pies to loaded-up supremes to out-there takes, like pickle pizza. And, in the pantheon of pizza toppings, few are as iconic as pepperoni. The disks of lightly spiced cured sausage are emblematic of pizza, adding a piquant richness that complements the gooey cheese and tart, sweet sauce. But, for all of its beauty, even pepperoni can become a bit tiresome and routine. Enter 'nduja, an oddball Italian "sausage" that captures much of the magic of pepperoni, but offers an interesting twist that can transform the pizza experience.

Originating from Calabria, 'nduja has a rich history dating back centuries. This soft and spreadable salami is made from finely ground pork meat, copious amounts of pork fat, and red Calabrian chili peppers, creating a distinctive flavor profile. The name 'nduja is thought to have been derived from the French word andouille, thanks to a period of rule under Napoleon.

The taste of 'nduja is an unquestionably rich blend of spicy, smoky, sweet, and savory notes. The fiery kick from the chili peppers is complemented by the savory pork and fat, creating a complex yet harmonious flavor. What stands out most is nduja's soft and spreadable consistency, which makes it quite versatile, from humbly topping a hunk of crusty bread to effortlessly stirring into a sauce. It's that combination of robust flavor and sumptuous consistency that makes 'nduja a pizza topping nonpareil.

'Nduja spices up each slice

The use of 'nduja on pizza seems like a no-brainer given its flavor profile. Its bold, spicy, and rich character fits right in atop a properly chewy crust covered in tangy sauce and rendered mozzarella. While simplicity such as this is not to be shunned, there are several creative ways to incorporate 'nduja into pizza, each offering a distinct culinary experience.

One method to infuse the pizza with 'nduja's distinctive flavor is by sautéing it into the sauce along with the onions and garlic as they render down. The result is a tantalizing and meaty sauce that rivals Bolognese. For a bolder approach, consider using 'nduja in place of sauce on your pizza. The soft nature of 'nduja means that it will melt over the crust and intermingle with the cheese, offering a savory counter to the brightness of the usual tomato sauce.

To further enhance the pizza, consider pairing 'nduja with other toppings that complement its boldness. Roasted eggplant soaks up 'nduja's richness while sauteed peppers accentuate the slight sweetness in the sausage. Meat lovers may want to add a bit of bacon for smoky crispness or shredded chicken as a lean foil to the 'nduja. And on the cheese front, varieties like chevre or burrata provide a creamy balance. There is no wrong way to go here. Embrace the boldness of 'nduja and enjoy a new experience with every slice.