Black pudding is something that has been made and served for centuries dating all the way back to the 1st century when the first detailed recipe was placed in Apicius (a collection of Roman recipes).
And while many of us here in the United States probably haven’t heard of black pudding or know entirely what it is, it has been prized in Europe for centuries.
What is black pudding?
Black pudding is a traditional blood pudding that is made of blood (generally pigs), suet, cereal and spices.
Nothing like what we American’s call pudding, this dish is more similar to modern day sausage while the British will say that what we call pudding is more similar to custard.
This dish was important to many farmer’s in Europe, especially during medieval times as even fairly poor families often owned at least a pig.
It was common practice, if not essential practice, to not allow any part of the animal to go to waste so blood pudding was often made.
It takes the whole nose to tail thing and puts it in an entirely new perspective, right? Society doesn’t eat much offal the way they used to. Things like heart, sweetbread, and kidney aren’t utilized as readily as they used to be and neither is blood.
Traditionally, in Apicius, blood was blended with chopped hard-boiled egg yolks, pine kernels, diced onions, and leeks and stuffed into lengths of intestine.
The peasant farmers during medieval times would blend together pigs blood with minced onions, diced pork fat (or suet), and spice it with cloves and ginger and stuff it into lengths of intestine.
It can be precarious to stuff predominantly blood with some spices into casings in today’s world, though not impossible. Thankfully, today’s blood sausage is typically thickened with the use of cereal (oats or barley) and fat.
But… you want me to eat blood?
I know… if you’ve made it this far you’re probably cringing. It’s different to think of using blood as an ingredient. However, most countries and cuisines use blood as an ingredient.
Also, there is a lot of nutrition in blood, think things like iron and other minerals. In fact, black pudding has been considered a superfood by many.
Since black pudding isn’t made like traditional sausage, which requires copious amounts of salt to cure, it probably is healthier and tastes good.
What’s in black pudding?
Pork blood. While it has been said that you can utilize cows blood or lamb in black pudding, it is traditionally made with pork blood. Pork blood will stay moist in your pudding while cows blood kind of dries out and crumbles. Pork blood can be found in just about any Asian market if you have one nearby….
Cereal. Typically oatmeal though oat groats or barley groats can be used. The cereal is utilized as a filler and makes the whole production easier to stuff into casings.
Pork fat or suet. If you’ve got pork fat (un-rendered lard) it can definitely be used. Beef suet is another alternative. The fat adds flavor.
Onions. Again… flavor. Dice them up fairly fine, you don’t want big hunks of onion in your pudding.
Spices and cure. This particular recipe calls for white pepper, coriander, cumin and ginger along with a bit of cure to keep things safe.
Heavy cream. Which, can be omitted, but calms the flavor of the blood down just a touch.
What does black pudding taste like?
Not like blood. If you didn’t know there was blood in it, you probably wouldn’t notice at all. It’s a bit chunkier than typical sausage but not necessarily in a bad way.
If you don’t want to make it yourself, you can try morcilla which is similar to black pudding, but spiced differently.
How to Serve Black Pudding
Typically black pudding is sliced, fried and served alongside eggs and other goodies at breakfast. But, it can also be crumbled and added to dishes.
It can be served cold, but most people slice it and fry or grill it before serving or cook it in a dish they add it to to add richness and flavor (like mashed potatoes, for instance).
Black pudding is a traditional British and Irish fare made with pigs blood, diced fat, onions, cereal and seasonings. While not everyone's cup of tea, it can be a delicious use in nose to tail eating.
- 8 1/2 C Pigs Blood (2 liters)
- 18 OZ Diced Pig Fat (or suet) (500 g)
- 9 OZ Sliced Onions (finely diced) (250 g)
- 2 T Oatmeal (soaked overnight)
- 1 t White Pepper
- 1 t Instacure No. 1
- 1/2 t coriander
- 1/4 t cumin
- 1/4 t ground cloves
- 2 C Milk (500 ml)
- Natural Hog Casings
Fry onion in a skillet with a touch of lard over low-medium heat until carmelized. Remove and cool, you can do this a day in advance if you want.
In a small bowl combine oatmeal, salt, pepper, coriander, cumin, cloves. Set aside.
Start with frozen, or partially frozen fat to make life easier and dice it up. Coat the pork with the seasoning mixture.
Place the blood and coated pork fat into the freezer and allow it to get nice and cold while you soak your hog casings.
Once everything has soaked and got nice and cold (you'll want it roughly 35˚F), you'll want to start mixing everything together. Using the paddle attachment on your stand mixer, or a nice, big spoon if you don't have one, combine the fat, oats, and blood by adding the blood in just a bit at a time (a cup or so). Continue mixing on low until everything is well combined. It will likely appear there has been a massacre.
Prepare a large pot of boiling water and get it boiling on the stove while everything is mixing up.
Thread the sausage stuffer with your hog casing and begin pouring the mixture into your stuffer. You will want to make an entire coil before you tie into links, and you do need to tie the ends off with butcher's twine.
Gently lower the sausages into the pot of boiling water one at a time. Poach for 15-20 minutes. You can check to see if it is done by pricking it with a needle, if the liquid that escapes is brown, it is finished.
While poaching, prepare a bowl of ice water to blanch them in. Once they have finished, immediately plunge them into the ice water. Once cool, remove and allow them to dry out for about an hour.
They can be served cold or fried.
This pudding is best made over the course of a day or two so that the onions can rest and the blood and fat can be nice and cold.
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