Black pudding, drisheen, boudin noir, morcilla, blutwurst�. Most sausage eating countries have a speciality sausage based on pigs blood.
Black pudding is growing in popularity and we are lucky to have some of the finest producers in Europe.
- What? Pigs blood - No way!
- What is black pudding?
- Different countries, same idea
- Cooking black pudding
- Beyond breakfast�.
- Black pudding makers
- Making black pudding
Why do we happily munch flesh and muscle (and a lot worse if you eat cheap sausages) but find the idea of eating blood from the same animal so frightening? As you are reading this page you have probably got over this irrational fear, if not read on and you might be tempted to try one of the greatest treats in the sausage world!
Black pudding is boiled pig's blood in a length of intestine. In the UK our puddings are usually bound with cereal with suet or cubes of fat added. European puddings are lighter because they are often made with cream instead of cereals.
Black pudding is especially popular in Northern England, Scotland and Ireland. The heartland for black puddings must be Lancashire. A visit to any of the markets in Lancashire, such as Preston, Bury or Accrington Stanley is a must for the black pudding connoisseur.
The World Black Pudding throwing Competition takes place every year in Bury, the object is to throw puddings at a row of Yorkshire Puddings on a wall and knock off as many as possible! BBC Manchester: Rivalry revived by pudding throwers
A Black Pudding Fair is also held each year in Mortagne au Perche in Normandy, France and over 5 km of pudding are consumed!
Black pudding is growing in popularity and is appearing on a number of restaurant menus. It combines very well with pork, lamb, fish (scallops, oysters, squid, muscles) and fruit (apples, pears, grapes, rhubarb). Lishmans of Ilkley made a superb 'restaurant' pudding which contains fruit. Our recipe section contains several recipes and more will be added on a regular basis.
Most black pudding recipes derive from the same need to make use of everything when a pig is butchered. They follow the same basic recipe and use similar flavourings such as onions, mace and black pepper.
The main versions and the key ingredients are summarised below.
- Black pudding - UK - pigs blood, pork fat and cereal (oatmeal and or barley)
- Drisheen - Ireland - as above but with lamb's blood
- Boudin noir - France - pigs blood, pork fat, breadcrumbs, brandy or calvados and cream
- Morcilla - Spain - pigs blood, pork fat, paprika, cooked long grain rice, sherry and sometimes raisins
- Blutwurst - Germany - pigs blood, diced bacon and lungs
The puddings we buy are already cooked, we just need to reheat them. The chief difficulty is that the pudding can burst out of the skin. The simple answer is to take off the casing but the filling may then crumble. I prefer to slice it thick (at least 2cm), then cook as gently as possible, in frying pan, grill or hot oven.
Black pudding is a vital ingredient of a cooked breakfast but can be used in many other ways. It works well with fish, fruit, lamb and pork. It can also be added to a stew or casserole as a flavour enhancer. If it is cooked for more than 30 minutes it will break down and flavour the dish as in Fabadas Asturianas (Spanish sausage casserole) or in a spicy tomato sauce.
Most butchers, especially in the North have their own recipe. There are cereal-heavy sausages, fat-studded sausages, spicy and mild, coarse and fine. Look for visible nuggets of fat, which are almost always a sign of high quality.
The Specialist Producers directory lists the best sausage makers in the UK and Ireland. A number sell superb black pudding:
Dordogne Direct import French food and sell canned boudin noir made with apples and calvados.
It goes without saying that to make black pudding you need blood. This is not for the faint hearted and under current regulations is difficult. Of course, if you have your own pigs the abattoir will allow you to collect the blood together with the rest of the pig.
Those of us who do not live the River Cottage dream will have more problems. You may find a butcher who makes his own puddings and is prepared to sell you some. Abattoirs used to be happy to sell a bucket of blood for a few pounds (very good for tomatoes apparently) but are now most seem unable to do this.
The alternative which is now used by nearly all butchers is to buy dried blood and re-hydrate this with water or milk. This is usually supplied from Holland. Trade supplies such as Scobies Direct can supply this.
The recipe below includes two methods of cooking the puddings - either poached in conventional sausage skins or baked in the oven (much easier!).
Casings, beef runners of large hog casings (optional)
3 onions, finely chopped
1 kg of suet or diced pork fat (back fat or bacon fat)
500ml double cream
500g oatmeal, soaked overnight in water)
500g barley, boiled in water for 30 minutes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon mixed herbs or ground coriander
1 teaspoon black pepper or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground mace
Soften the onions in a quarter of the fat, make sure that they do not colour. Add the rest of the fat and leave to slowly sweat for 10 minutes Add the oatmeal and cream and cook for a few minutes Add the rest of the ingredients and stir over a gentle heat for 5 minutes If you are using skins, these can now be filled and sealed with two knots. The puddings can then be poached in barely simmering water for 5 - 10 minutes. Splitting is common, to avoid this prick the puddings with a needle and cook on the lowest possible simmer (better to cook them very, very slowly then to lose them). Any pudding which floats to the top should also be pricked, they are cooked when brown liquid comes out. They can then be drained and kept in a fridge for 1 - 2 weeks
An easier method is to bake the pudding in an ovenproof container, and cook in a bain marie (by standing the tin in a larger tin half filled with water) in a low oven (160 degree or gas mark 2) for 1 - 2 hours until the mixture is firm to the touch Make sure that the mixture has started to thicken and coat your stirring spoon (as with a custard) before pouring into the container and stir well first (this should ensure that the ingredients are evenly mixed)
You can then cut slices and fry or bake
Try it - you might be converted!