It all started so well.
I was idly browsing the internet, looking for new ingredients to try out. How then did it end at 2am on a Wednesday morning standing covered in blood, in a kitchen that looked like something out of CSI?
I’ve always really liked black pudding. I can appreciate that it’s not to everyone’s taste but for me, the combination of blood, fat and cereals is a heavenly one. I’d never really thought about making my own though. Never that is, until a combination of finding dried blood for sale and a friend lending me the River Cottage Cook Book led me down a dangerous path.
One fateful Tuesday evening, I thought, “Oh I don’t have much on tonight. I’ll make some black pudding. How hard can it be…” Skip forward 6 hours to me standing in my kitchen, tired, grumpy and looking like an extra from an early Peter Jackson film. Should you wish to join me on this particular (mis)adventure with the pig, the recipe follows.
Jon’s British style Black Pudding
150g dried pigs blood
1 ltr water
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
250g oatmeal soaked overnight
250g pearl barley, boiled until tender
500g pork back fat, derinded and cubed
500g onions, finely chopped
250 ml double cream
1g ground coriander
1g cayenne pepper.
Hog casings – more than you think…. (maybe about 15 feet)
First soak your casings in the usual way.
Next, take a handful of your back fat (perhaps 100g) and gently heat until it starts to render liquid. When a tablespoon or so of fat has run, add the onions and the rest of the back fat and cook over a low heat until the onions are soft and the fat has started to become translucent. You might want to cover the pan to encourage cooking.
In the meantime, slowly combine your dried pigs blood with the water to hydrate it. You might need to beat it together for a while to ensure that you remove any lumps.
Keep stirring, adding your salt, pepper and spices until your blood mix is thoroughly combined.
Take your soaked casings and cut into lengths depending on how long you want your puddings. I cut mine into pieces about 45 cm long which made roughly 30cm puddings. Tie your skins at one end, making sure the knot is secure. You don’t want them coming undone when you’re trying to fill them.
Take your oatmeal and cream and add it to the fat and onions before continuing to cook over a low heat for a minute or two.
Up until now it’s been a fairly clean task. This is where it starts to get messy…
Take your pan off the heat and slowly pour in your seasoned blood, continuing to stir until it’s all combined. Add your oatmeal, stirring continuously to stop the fat and cereals sinking to the bottom. Put an apron on. You will spill some.
Set a large pan of water over a gentle heat and keep it at a gentle simmer.
Take your sausage casings and slide them over your medium sausage stuffing tube or a funnel. Now using a ladle, slowly start to fill your casings until you have a thick sausage. You will want something like a chopstick or skewer to push through any bits of fat or cereal that get stuck.
Slide your skin off the funnel when you’re about 5-7cm off the open end of the skin and tie securely. This is quite tricky as your hands, your casings, and most of your kitchen are liable to be covered with blood at this stage. I can see why commercial producers use metal ties to seal them.
Repeat this until you have filled all your casings. The puddings will still be quite liquid at this stage. Lower the puddings into your pan of barely simmering water and cook for 20 minutes or so making sure the water doesn’t boil too fiercely. If your puddings swell up, prick them with a pin to ensure they don’t explode. No one wants to be showered with exploding pudding.
After 20 minutes, remove your puddings from the simmering and drop them in a bowl of iced water for a couple of minutes. your puddings are now ready to eat or slice and fry.
You can serve these as a quick supper with bread, salad, and fried apple slices or as part of a classic hangover cure fry up. They are also good used to stuff a pork loin or mashed with potatoes as an accompaniment to sausages.
Next time I do them, (if the girlfriend will allow me back in the kitchen!) I think I will add more oatmeal to make them firmer. I’ll also try using larger artificial casings to make wider, more traditional puddings.
Only make as many as you will eat in a few days or slice and freeze them. The smell of gone off black pudding is the smell of undiluted evil as I discovered to my cost on my return from a weekend away.