One of my favorite aspects of Italian cuisine is its regional differences. Almost every region in Italy has its own specialties, and although some dishes are shared between adjoining areas, the cuisine from region to region is uniquely different as well. My husband’s father is from Calabria, so my husband grew up enjoying food a little spicier than I did. Throughout the years of our marriage however, I grew to love adding dried chili peppers to many of our family favorites. One Calabrian specialty ingredient that we all love is nduja, a soft, spicy spreadable salami. Nduja is typically made with parts of the pig such as the shoulder and belly, as well as tripe, roasted peppers and a mixture of spices. Although nduja is available in Italy, it is not so easy to find here in the United States. We discovered an excellent nduja product made by Nduja Artisans and can be bought online on their website, or even through Amazon.com .
Spaghetti Carbonara is a traditional pasta dish loved by many worldwide that contains eggs, grated cheese, and some cured pork product such as pancetta, guanciale, or even bacon. I was recipe surfing online recently when I came across a recipe on Food & Wine that included nduja. After first asking myself why I hadn’t thought of that myself, I decided I just had to try it. Nduja works well in this dish as it melts in the sauce allowing it to perfectly coat each pasta strand. The eggs and cheese temper the bite of the nduja a bit, but it still adds a delicious pork flavor. We thoroughly enjoyed this new version of carbonara, and leftovers were just as tasty reheated the next day! I made a few changes to the original recipe, adapting it to my own carbonara recipe. I use only egg yolks, and warm the yolks before mixing them with the pasta which helps prevent the eggs from breaking. I also added some diced guanciale to my version as I enjoy the flavor and texture of this delicious pork product.
Deborah Mele Revised 2022
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 6 Ounces Diced Guanciale or Pancetta
- 4 Ounces Nduja At Room Temperature
- 6 Large Egg Yolks At Room Temperature
- 1/2 Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- 1 Teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
- 1/3 Cup Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley Leaves
- 1 Pound Spaghetti or Bucatini
- Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil for the pasta.
- In a large frying pan, heat the oil until lightly smoking over medium heat, then cook the guanciale or pancetta until crispy, about 6 minutes.
- Stir in the nduja and mix well.
- Keep warm.
- Drop the pasta into the water and cook until “al dente” according to the package instructions.
- As the pasta is cooking, warm a large serving bowl.
- Place the egg yolks in the bowl along with the cheese mixture along with the ground pepper.
- Use a whisk and blend until well mixed.
- Drain the pasta, reserving a small cup of the pasta water, then return the pasta to the pot.
- Add the warm guanciale or pancetta and nduja mixture, and toss to mix well.
- Add the drained, steaming hot pasta into the bowl with the eggs, along with a little of the pasta water, toss vigorously to lightly cook the eggs and coat the pasta with the egg mixture.
- Serve the pasta in individual bowls with a sprinkling of the parsley and the remainder of the cheese.