This Spicy Prosciutto Spread Is Pure Umami-in-a-Tube

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Credit: Carol Penn-Romine

I’m a cheesemonger and, for as much as I love cheese, I also love all the non-cheese items that surround my counter. Because a cheese board can’t just be about the cheese — no, you also need the accoutrement that round out the board and make things interesting. And if you’re a meat-eater, I’d like to call your attention to this tube of ’Nduja from La Quercia.

Credit: Carol Penn-Romine

Iowa-based La Quercia specializes in cured pork products, including prosciutto and pancetta. For its ’Nduja, the company combines prosciutto and speck with red chili powder to mimic its southern Italian inspiration. To call it “spreadable meat” is to grossly undersell its desirability and potential. ’Nduja is pure umami. It packs some respectable heat, but not punishingly so. Its porky, smoky, punchy flavor and amazing versatility arm you with loads of flavoring possibilities. While a little goes a long way, no one will fault you if you want to pile it high.

Credit: Carol Penn-Romine

’Nduja is a welcome addition to appetizers and entrées. You can stir it into mac and cheese and melt it into risotto. If your chili just isn’t up to snuff, add a dollop to the pot. I incorporate it in the yolk-and-mayo mixture when making deviled eggs, but offer no specific measurements; just do what your taste buds tell you to. For an amped up Southern treat I make what I call POWmento cheese: Mix 1 ounce of ’Nduja with 2 cups of finely grated sharp cheddar and 1/4 cup of mayonnaise and spread it over bread or crackers or pack it into celery sticks.

Credit: Carol Penn-Romine

Make a quick open-faced sandwich by spreading a thin layer of ’Nduja over focaccia, top with shreds of fresh mozzarella and pop it under the broiler. Supercharge your avocado toast by spreading a layer onto toasted baguette slices before laying on the avocado, then top with whatever crumbly cheese you have on hand — be it cotija, feta, ricotta salata, or myzithra. For a counterintuitive twist I like to top my toast and ’Nduja with fresh mozzarella or ricotta and drizzle a bit of honey over top. It’s sublime.

Credit: Carol Penn-Romine

Unsurprisingly, it’s also great all on its own — I eat it with my fingers right out the package! And, of course, I love it on a cheese board.

Have you tried La Quercia’s ‘Nduja? Tell us about it in the comments.

Carol Penn-Romine

Contributor

Carol Penn-Romine is an award-winning food writer whose work has appeared in Best Food Writing 2013 and 2016 editions, Culture Cheese Magazine, cheeseprofessor.com, Gastronomica and Leite’s Culinaria, among others. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, she lives in Seattle, where she works as a cheesemonger and contends that many of the world’s problems could be solved if only people sat down and ate cheese together.

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