Wednesday, 18 May 2011


To me that seems like an obvious start to a bad joke.. along the lines of "Nduja? No she went of her own accord..." but I couldn't think of a suitable punchline. But anyway.

The pic by the way is of my parcels of yumminess brought back from Volpetti, Rome - I strongly urge anyone who visits Rome to check it out, the address can be found on the previous post: an amazing deli staffed by lovely guys who really know their stuff. Just try not to spend as much as I did.

So, included in the parcel was a hunk of Nduja (en-doo-ya), a soft & very spicy Calabrian salami that is absolutely delicious simply smeared on toast but that also calls out for inclusion in a rich tomato based pasta sauce.  It also goes well with other pork based dishes.  A griddled pork chop being a case in point.

What follows are a couple of the recipes I used it in - 2 variations-on-a-theme pasta dishes and a Nduja topped pork steak.  And very delicious (if I say so myself) they all were.

Pici with Nduja sauce
Serves 2

1 banana shallot, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp Nduja
Small tin of chopped tomatoes
½ small glass of red wine (drink the rest while cooking)
½ tsp red wine vinegar
handful parsley, chopped
Sugar to taste
150g pici (or short pasta of choice)
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp Pecorino Romano

Sauté the shallots over a low heat slowly in olive oil until translucent & soft.  About 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the wine, letting the alcohol boil off and then add the tomatoes. Crush the tomatoes further with the back of a wooden spoon and simmer for at least 20 minutes adding salt & pepper, a dash of sugar and ½ tsp of red wine vinegar.

In a separate pan, about half way through the simmering time, bring generously salted water ("as salty as the sea") to the boil & cook the pasta according to the instructions..

Add the nduja to sauce and stir allowing it to melt into the sauce.  

When the pasta is cooked al dente, add 2 tbsps of the pasta cooking water to the sauce. Drain the pasta, tip into the sauce and mix well. 

Stir in the parsley & half of the pecorino. Serve with the remaining pecorino sprinkled over.

Conchiglie with Nduja & tenderstem broccoli
Serves 2

2 tsp olive oil
50g cooking chorizo, chopped into small pieces
Small onion, finely chopped

1 lge garlic clove, thinly sliced
Handful of cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
15g semi dried tomatoes
100ml white wine
75g tenderstem broccoli
2 tbsp nduja
200g wholewheat conchigle
Parsley to serve
Pecorino Romano or parmesan to serve

Heat some oil in a large sauté pan, big enough to eventually hold the drained, cooked pasta.

Add the onion and chorizo, cook gently over a low flame until the onion is soft and translucent and the chorizo is turning the oil a fragrant red. Add the garlic, and cook for a further minute or two. 

Tip in the chopped fresh and semi dried tomatoes and cook for a couple of minutes more before adding the wine.

Let this simmer and in the meantime bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and after about five minutes the broccoli (I think the broccoli in this case does well by being well cooked).

Just before the pasta is ready add the Nduja to the pasta sauce, again stirring so it melts into the sauce.

Drain the pasta and broccoli, adding a little of the pasta water to the sauce to loosen a bit. Tip the pasta and broccoli into the sauce and stir through gently.

Serve, sprinkled with the fresh parsley and a little pecorino.

Pork steaks with Nduja & honey
Serves 2

This was apparently originally on the menu at a restaurant called The Purple Pig in Chicago which has recently been named as one of the top new restaurants in US and has variously described as a gastropub, a “European” restaurant, a Mediterranean resttaurant and a winebar. It doesn’t seem to me to fit any of those titles particularly but I do like their own tagline of “cheese, swine & wine”.

This recipe also calls for brining the pork which I've not really seen outside of US recipes but I thought I'd give it a go. The meat was perhaps a little moister but in all honesty I'm not convinced it made a huge amount of difference and could probably be omitted if you can't be bothered.

350ml water
2 tbsps coarse salt
1 tbsp sugar
2 pork shoulder steaks
1 tsp olive oil
65g nduja (the original recipe called for this to be cut into very thin slices and I say “eh?”)
1 tbsp + 2 tsp honey

Combine the water, salt & sugar in a dish large enough to hold the steaks & stir until the salt and sugar dissolve. Place the pork steaks in the brine in the dish. Cover and chill for 2-4 hours.

Remove the pork steaks from brine and wipe dry. Rub the oil onto both sides of the steaks & sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper.

Heat a griddle over a medium-high heat until almost smoking. Place the steaks on the griddle and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the steaks over and immediately top each with the nduja, dividing it equally between the two. If the steaks are thick then clearly they will need a longer cooking time.

Cook until the pork is cooked through, about 3 minutes longer and then spoon ½ tbsp of honey over each.

Transfer the pork steaks, nduja side down to warmed plates then sprinkle a tsp of honey over the topsides of them. Serve with parsley jersey royals & a mixed salad.

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Monday, 9 May 2011

Roman Holiday

Back from my five days in Rome which is an absolutely fantastic city on so many levels, including of course the food!  Of course I'm sure it's easy to eat badly in Rome as well, as it is pretty much anywhere really, but with the help of many blogs but in particular Katie Parla's and also Elizabeth Minchilli's I had a pretty good idea of where I particularly wanted to eat and they were all great. 

Unfortunately things didn't always pan out - Easter Monday proving particularly tricky as even restaurants that I'd expected to be open on a Monday weren't on the bank holiday - and so there were sadly a few that we didn't get to.  But hey, that's what return visits are for!

Anyway - here are a few (well quite a lot) pics, some food and some sights.

The view from the apartment's terrace into "Cat Square"

Taverna dei Fiori Imperiali - scene of the 1st night's dinner 

"Easter Antipasti": lamb's livers, salami, porchetta & cheese bread

Melanzane alla parmigiana

Handmade gnocchi with veal & black truffle sauce - amazing

Wild boar stew with polenta

The oculus in the Pantheon

Gelato stop no. 1 at Cremeria Monteforte. The granita caffe con panna & cherry gelato were excellent

I could do with one of these for farmer's market shopping in London!

Trevi Fountain

Approaching St Peter's

View of St Peter's basilica from one of the piazzas in the Vatican

Raphael's The School of Athens

Serious pizza stop required after Vatican tour - enter Gabriele Bonci's Pizzarium

Pizza slice with peas (sensational) & braesola with fennel & potato, also lovely

I can't remember what the top one was but it was good

I got quite excited about seeing Bonci (big guy to the left, inside the doorway)

Pizza rossa which really allowed the amazing dough to shine and a aubergine, artichoke & mozzarella 

One of many amazing stalls in Campo de' Fiori market

More types of pasta than you can imagine

If I could do my weekly fruit & veg shop here I would be a very happy girl!

Roma Sparita's famed Cacio e pepe in a pecorino basket - cheesy, peppery goodness

One of the great things about Rome is just stumbling across amazing little courtyards like this

The Colosseum

The arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum

The Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum

The beginning of a blowout dinner for Phil's birthday at Roscioli - Burrata with semi dried cherry tomatoes

Bombolotti Amatriciana - as good as I'd read it would be

Spaghetti Carbonara - designer carbonara to the max

Sautéed chicory (I think) with grated bottarga

"Le Polpette" - with smoked ricotta & chestnut "polenta"

Mosaic floor details from the Baths of Caracalla

Baths of Caracalla

The Domus Flavia as seen from the Circus Maximus

The Aventine Keyhole in the Knight of Malta's gate

The view through the keyhole - though weirdly St. Peter's has completely disappeared

We couldn't get a table where we wanted to so ended up here - it turned out to be a good choice

Tuscan charcuterie plate
Tagliata with rocket & cherry tomatoes

Pappardelle with lamb and artichoke - will definitely try an recreate this as it was lovely 

A massive Tiramisu

Vin Santo, Cantucci & Biscotti

Washing in Trastevere
Another lovely little road in Trastevere

Volpetti - I spent a fortune on guanciale, nduja, pecorino (2 kinds), parmesan, mortadella & testun al barolo

One of the lovely guys in Volpetti - an excellent salesman (and Italian pronunciation corrector)

A fishy window display

Mustard fruits - I wish I'd noticed these when we were inside... 

Cat Square, just off Vinegar Alley

A final visit to the market

Our last lunch - fittingly delicious antipasti 

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

Puntarelle alla Romana

Lots of mortadella, nduja & guanciale recipes to follow..

Taverna dei Fiori Imperiali, Via della Madonna dei Monti, 900184 Rome
Cremeria Monteforte, Via della Rotonda, 2200186 Rome
Pizzarium, Via della Meloria, 3900136 Rome
Roma Sparita, Piazza di Santa Cecilia, 2400153 Rome
Roscioli, Via dei Giubbonari, 2100186 Rome
Terra di Siena, Piazza di Pasquino, 7700186 Rome
Volpetti, Via Marmorata, 4700153 Rome

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