Sorry for the truly terrible joke. If you know what Nduja is you have knowledge I did not possess until a few days ago. This is it:
It is a spreadable salami from a small village named Spilinga in Calabria. Made from pig’s cheeks, lard and belly, with 25-30% local chilli, stuffed into pig’s intestines, smoked then finally cured for two months. If you spread a bit on toast you’ll enjoy its sweet, smoky, rich warmth from the chillies and mouth-coating fatty loveliness from the pig bits.
So tonight we use Nduja in pasta.
Cook as much pasta as you need for the number of people eating, 150g each of good quality dry stuff will normally do. When you cook pasta you need to add a truly incredible amount of salt to the water. The ratio is 100:10:1 so (for example) two people will require 3 litres water, 300g pasta and 30g salt.
Also, unless you are cooking gnocchi, which are really easy to tell when they are cooked (they float to the surface), you will need to taste the pasta to check when it is cooked. It may seem odd but you have to take instructions on packets as merely a rough guide, it can vary so much.
Once the pasta is cooked drain it immediately. If you fancy (and we often fancy) you can save a little of this salty pasta water to add to the final preparation. Put the pasta back in the cooking pot with a good slug of bloody good olive oil and about 50ml of the salty cooking water you saved and toss them together over a low heat.
Take 50g of Nduja per person, cut it into 2cm lumps. Add this to the pot of pasta and generally stir until it is all mixed together. Whilst it is over the heat you should add some grated sun-dried ricotta (or parmesan). Get noshing!
If you are fortunate enough to live in London you can buy Nduja at De Calabria in Borough Market. De Calabria’s website is here.