One of the fine edibles I picked up for Christmas dinner was a special Calabrese-style ‘Nduja made by La Quercia. It’s one of the many amazing things stocked at The Cheese Traveller. La Quercia makes theirs with various cuts of proscuitto and speck along with lots of spicy chiles; generally, this cured specialty is made from the off-cuts of the pig to help provide some flavor to sauces or other dishes. So, La Quercia’s version is a true treat.
After eating a bunch of this spicy, meaty stuff on crackers or just with a fork, I thought to myself, “this damn stuff would be great stuffed into a burger with some grass fed beef.”
So I did it.
To accompany the burger, I picked up a hard roll from Cookie Factory, mixed up some chopped pepperonici with some Sicilian chile infused olive oil (don’t tell the Calabrese I did this, though; they still think they’re the reason Sicily isn’t part of the main part of Italy.), and topped it with some provolone cheese and a fried egg. I made some white sweet potato oven fries on the side.
From there, it was a matter of griddling the burger on cast iron, basting with some butter, melting the cheese, and having the burger rest.
And the result was pretty incredible.
The ‘nduja creates almost a velvety interior to the burger. The way I cook my burgers, the center is just medium rare, and at this temperature, the ‘nduja just starts to render. Also at this temperature, the spiciness of the ‘nduja starts to jump out. I also employed the vinegary heat of the pepperoncini and some additional spice from the Sicilian chile oil.
The cheese cut the heat. I chose provolone because it’s what I had in my fridge. If I were going full Calabrese, I probably would have picked a hard sheepsmilk cheese.
And the fried egg was there to add some additional richness and put the whole thing over the top.
I’m totally doing this again some time!