Black pudding aka. morcilla, boudin noir… Whatever you call it, this ingredient is often unfairly maligned and misunderstood. Allow us to set that right.
by John Pope on April 29, 2016
Standing in a butchers shop queue the other day, I was reminded of a Sunday afternoon spent sitting in a pub enjoying some good food with some new friends.
Topics of conversation were varied, from fishing to toilet escorts (not as naughty as you are imagining), plus of course the contents of the menu, which is where I had a realisation….
Despite the fact that I love it, I’m fully aware that black pudding isn’t universally adored. Rather, it is actually a bit divisive, a Marmitesque love or hate it thing, and furthermore that the mere idea of it is repellent to some people.
Now, I can see why the thought of what is essentially a blood sausage would be contentious if I’d been sharing lunch with a table full of militant vegans, but this was a decidedly carnivorous afternoon, the table heavily laden with burgers and steaks.
It turns out that not only are a lot of people unsure about black pudding, but also that it is very much misunderstood. So, I have decided to take it upon myself to clarify exactly what black pudding is. You may consider this a public service announcement.
Black pudding is….
Put very simply, black pudding is a blend of blood (usually from a pig) and a filler, usually oatmeal or rice depending on where in the world you are. There will probably also be some pork fat, some onion maybe and some additional flavourings. It’s all cooked together until it thickens enough to congeal into a set sausage when it cools.
There is no way to romanticise it, we are talking about a sausage made of blood. It also happens to be (in my opinion) one of the tastiest things you can pop into your mouth.
If you have an issue with the idea of eating blood (or pig for that matter, this is definitely not kosher or halal) then fair enough but you really are missing out, and if you don’t have religious reasons or aren’t ethically opposed to eating meat in general, then I really do think you should give black pudding a try.
Black pudding isn’t a new or faddish ingredient, it has been around for as long as humans have been farming animals. It first appears in literature in 800 BC, mentioned in no lesser tale than Homer’s Oddysey.
As when a man besides a great fire has filled a sausage with fat and blood and turns it this way and that and is very eager to get it quickly roasted.
Homer – The Odyssey
There isn’t a continent on the planet where the humble blood sausage doesn’t appear in plenty of regional cuisines. Apart from being an important part of a proper British breakfast, it has a special place in the hearts of the French and Spanish where you will find some amazing varieties.
If you need any more reasons to indulge then bear in mind that black pudding is also surprisingly healthy. It’s a great source of protein, very low in carbohydrates and packed with iron and zinc
What do do with it
The common misconception is that you need to cook black pudding to death, while the reality is that you should treat it gently. Black pudding (assuming you have bought it rather than made it) is already cooked, so it actually just need to be gently reheated, and given a bit of exterior texture. Overcook it and you end up with a very crumbly mess, which is sometimes just what you want but not always.
Slice or dice it into sensible size bits and then warm in the oven, put them under a moderate grill or gently fry them. But please be gentle, when it is hot then it is done.
It’s a surprisingly versatile ingredient and goes well with all sorts of things… apples, beetroot, onion, mushrooms, tomato… bacon and of course EGGS!