Tuesday, June 23, 2009

N'Duja Disaster!

I saw this one coming for weeks. I noticed it was drying strangely. I inspected it and found that there were empty spots, big gaps. Almost like it dried in sections and pulled apart from the rest, this was in 2 different spots on the n'duja. I pushed it down just to compact it back together. It was definitely too late. As you can see by the picture, it is certainly not spreadable, it is dry and crumbly. It also had some mold on the inside, between the meat and casing. I think 2 things were at play here. #1. The use of the starter culture combined with the dextrose was a mistake, obviously, it dried out too much. #2. Collagen casing- I say this beacause the casing did not properly adhere to the salame, not allowing it to dry well, and is what caused the internal mold. Weird that the starter culture dried it out too much, but, the mixture started out too wet for the artificial casing to adhere. That's an easy fix, next time, no starter culture/dextrose, and the beef middles are in the mail. OK, all this N'duja bashing aside.........it tastes damn good. As I removed it and cut it open, I found myself gnawing on a handful of crumbs. The salt content is perfect. The pepper paste is very pleasant and hot. Next time I think it could even be hotter. The perfect vehicle to throw in some of the Calabrian dried chilli powder. Back to square one.


  1. Oh man, what a drag!

    At least the flavor is good, though.

    Larbo questioned me when I said I intended not to use any cures or cultures in mine, and in hindsight, I guess it's good that I didn't.

    I've got a post set to go up tomorrow that talks about how the nduja's doing over here... let's just say it's getting a bit messy :)

  2. Better messy than wrecked! I'll hammer out a good one next time. Did you smoke yours yet?

  3. It's only a disaster if you didn't learn anything.

  4. Sorry, it's not as good as you were hoping Scott, but that's the way the salami crumbles…

    I don't know about the collagen casings, since I've never used them, but I don't see how the starter culture or dextrose could be part of the problem here. As far as I know, the dextrose just offers some easy sugars for the bacteria to feed on, and the bacteria (or the lactic acid they produce) shouldn't affect the drying as far as I know.

    How wet was it when it went into the casings? If really wet, maybe it just couldn't contract enough to stay together as it dried out. Also, did you mix everything thoroughly in a stand mixer to get a good bind? That can help a lot to avoid a crumbly texture.

    My own Nduja was pretty wet (from all the roasted red peppers that I didn't dry out before using), but the salamis dried up fine in the meat curing fridge, with the beef middles shrinking and everything holding together. But this batch that I dried for two months was made with bison (50%), which may have a lot more myosin to bind everything together.

    From what I've seen and my own experience, I'm thinking that the spreadable Nduja must be a fresh sausage, not more than a few weeks old, while anything aged more than a few months will give you a harder, sliceable salami.