Burger makers have tried so many different patty blends—combinations of beef, bacon, pork, chorizo, sausage, bison, even Spam—that it’s possible to question whether the options have been exhausted. But they haven’t. A few intrepid kitchen magicians already are working with what may be the next on-trend burger ingredient: ‘Nduja.
‘Nduja (sometimes spelled N’duja; pronounced “en-doo-ya”) is a spicy, spreadable pork sausage that tastes like fine salami. It’s a specialty of Calabria, Italy, where it’s often spread on bread or mixed into pasta sauce. And—who would have guessed—‘nduja is great mixed with beef or other proteins to make rich, spicy burgers. It can be a topping on its own or as the basis for an aïoli or sauce.
In its spring Menu Trends Survey, British foodservice researcher Horizons cited ‘nduja as one of several international foods gaining presence on menus.
‘Nduja is Calabrian, but one of it most creative champions is Bread Meats Bread, a burger bar in Glasgow, Scotland. Its Black Label house blend is a mix of Scotch beef cuts. For the more adventuresome, there are Red Label Burgers, blending Scotch beef and ‘nduja. Four Red Labels are offered, including the Caribbean, topped with caramelized sweet-potato fries, crispy fried onions and spicy ‘nduja mayo (also available with any other burger for a 50p upcharge).
“‘Nduja is that beautiful artisan sausage from Southern Italy, Calabria. It is still done the way it was done for centuries and we thought it would be brilliant to infuse our burger blend with it and create our Red label burgers,” Ylli Dushi, operations manager for Bread Meats Bread, told BurgerBusiness.com.
“‘Nduja is not crazy common here yet and we have done wonders in popularizing it in Scotland, where it now makes the menus of the best artisan wood fire oven pizzerias.
I have seen its popularity soar in London, too, with food trucks and other street food merchants.”
Dushi said he first saw ‘nduja in sliders made by Chef Mario Batali, who menus “Black Spaghetti with ‘Nduja and Sicilian Pesto” at his B&B Ristorante in The Venetian in Las Vegas. It’s not just Italians who have discovered it: A special menu offered in September at Chef Daniel Boulud’s db Bistro Moderne in New York City included “Hand-Rolled Gemelli with ‘Nduja, Rock Shrimp and Blistered Tomato.”
The London-based Byron burger chain offered a Miami Spice special this year that included ‘nduja. Byron Chef Fred Smith told blog Burgeracthat the burger was inspired by one he’d had at El Mago de la Fritas in Miami’s Little Havana, but with ‘nduja substituted for the spicy chorizo of the original.
Sourcing Italian ‘nduja can be a bit tricky, though domestic versions can be ordered onlineand found at some marketsand delis (also here). Dushi says Bread Meats Bread “got our buyer/supplier to import ‘nduja directly for us as we go through a lot. You still are not able to buy ‘nduja in high street retail shops, unless you’re in London, where you can find it in specialized charcuterie shops or big department stores like Selfridges and Harrods.”
As availability increases, ‘nduja is showing up more often on U.S. menus. Davanti Enoteca in Chicago created the “N’Duja Love Me” burger (brisket-and-chuck patty, ‘nduja, provolone, caramelized onions and cucumber yogurt) for a burger battle event this summer. CDB Provisions in Dallas offers ‘Nduja Pimento Cheese to spread on sourdough toast. And ‘Nduja Pizza is offered by Chefs Ken Orringer and Jamie Bissonette at their Boston restaurant Coppa.
This article appeared first at BurgerBusiness.