Why It Works
- Dollops of spicy ‘nduja hold their shape when baked quickly in a high-temperature pizza oven.
- Placing fresh basil leaves on the dough before topping with tomato sauce and cheeses keeps them from burning during baking.
- Using a dough specially formulated for high temperature outdoor pizza ovens produces perfectly baked pies with a crisp bottom and tender crust.
I’m a huge fan of the soft, spreadable, spicy Calabrian cured pork product ‘nduja, and keep a slab of it in my larder almost all the time. It’s essentially a “hard” salami that has been formulated and prepared to remain soft and spreadable, despite being as shelf-stable as lower-moisture dried salume. (For more about to the myriad joys and uses of ‘nduja, check out this comprehensive guide.)
Though it has the funk and the spice of a cured sausage, ‘nduja’s texture is far closer to a fresh one. While I use it all the time on pizza (and elsewhere), I think it especially shines on pizzas cooked in my tabletop outdoor pizza oven. That’s because when pizzas are cooked at temperatures of 800°F (425°C) and up in just two minutes or so, the ‘njuda doesn’t tend to melt into the pie. Instead, it stays intact in little mounds, just like slices or dollops of fresh sausage would. But unlike fresh sausage, it’s the sort of ingredient you can keep in the fridge for whenever the occasion arises.
As for what to pair it with here, I kept things simple to let the ‘nduja take center stage: a simple tomato sauce, Parmesan and fresh mozzarella cheeses, along with fresh basil leaves, placed beneath the cheeses and toppings to keep them from burning. It’s the sort of classic pizza topping combination that never goes out of style.