James Beard Award–winning Toro and Coppa chef Jamie Bissonnette knows his way around the vast world of preserved meat and fish. He’s a master of charcuterie (coppa is Italian cured pork neck) and an avid collector of canned Spanish seafood — an enviable hobby if you’ve ever loved a smoked mussel or glistening sardine in your life. Equally praise-worthy: his faculty and creativity with ‘nduja, a spicy, spreadable, melt-in-your-mouth fermented sausage. With roots in Italy, cousins around the globe and appearances on menus from French and Spanish to New American and even comfort food, this is one trendy ingredient that goes wherever spicy pork goes. Read all about his close relationship with this unlikely hero of the charcuterie menu here.
Now that you’re totally in love with this versatile pantry staple, try your hand at one of Bissonnette’s original creations: a Caesar-inspired salad starring heirloom tomatoes and infused with tangy, spicy ‘nduja at every step.
'Nduja migas croutons
- 4 ounces ciabatta, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 ounces 'nduja
- 2 ounces extra-virgin olive oil
'Nduja Caesar dressing
- 4 ounces 'nduja, at room temperature
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon water
- 3 cups canola oil
- 3 Boquerones (Spanish white anchovies)
- juice of 1 lemon
- 3 ounces Idiazabel cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup 'Nduja migas
- 1 large heirloom tomato (or 2 smaller ones), cut randomly, bite-sized
- 1/3 cup English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 8 shishito peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
- freshly ground black pepper
- extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon aged sherry vinegar
- 3 tablespoons 'Nduja Caesar dressing
- 1/4 cup mint, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup seasonal greens to garnish (arugula is good year-round)
- 3 ounces Idiazabel cheese
For the migas
Heat a heavy pan and add the olive oil and 'nduja. Warm slowly to render fat from the 'nduja and flavor the olive oil.
When it starts to pop, add the torn bread, and cook over medium heat. Stir often.
When the bread is crisp, remove from the fat, drain on paper towels and set aside.
For the Caesar dressing
In a food processor, blend egg yolk, water and lemon juice for one minute.
Add the boquerones and 1/3 of the 'nduja. Blend to combine.
While the blender is on, slowly add the canola oil. If it starts to thicken too much, thin with water.
When all the oil is added, blend in the remaining 'nduja, and finish with cheese.
Taste and adjust with salt as needed.
For the tomato salad
Season tomatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and sherry vinegar. Smudge the plate with a little 'nduja.
Plate the tomatoes, cucumbers and shishito peppers, top with dressing, migas croutons and garnish with mint and greens and a few broken-up anchovy pieces, if you like.
Grate cheese over the salad and serve immediately.