I’m a very big fan of all types of blood sausages, not just Irish ones but also morcilla from Spain, blutwurst from Germany and even an amazing smoked Estonian version that I think is called verivorst. Last year, my wife got Darina Allen’s Forgotten Skills Of Cooking book for Christmas and in it is a recipe for black pudding which I’ve since tried (with the help of my Dad) a couple of times.
The first attempt was a bit of a disaster: the casings we bought weren’t big enough and were almost impossible to fill so after making about three or four of those we just put the rest of the filling we’d made into baking tins and cooked them like loaves of bread. Unfortunately I put them in at too high a temperature for too long and all the fat melted out leaving a really dry end product even if the flavour was actually quite good.
Our next try was a lot better, I had a bunch of artificial casings I’d bought for some dried Italian sausages (this also didn’t work out) so it was a good way to use up something I probably would have thrown out otherwise; you normally peel a pudding before frying it anyway so the problematic texture of the casing wasn’t going to be an issue. There was still room for a mishap though in that I steamed the puddings in baking trays sealed with tin foil but left them in the oven for slightly too long and a couple burst.
Thankfully, this time there weren’t any major problems aside from running out of artificial casings right at the end but I’d bought some proper natural ones for future use so they just got broken out a little earlier than expected. That said, the blood we got from the butchers was frozen unlike the last two occasions so we were unsure how it would affect things as the Darina Allen book says the texture from frozen blood will be completely different to fresh; however, despite the warnings I didn’t really notice much of a difference from the previous batch.
A word of warning before you read any more of this post is that if you are in anyway squeamish you may want to prepare yourself for some pretty gruesome pictures.
Sausage casings (natural* or artificial will do)
3kg minced pork back fat
3.5l pigs blood
75g ground allspice
1 grated nutmeg
10g dried sage
10g dried thyme
30g white ground pepper
10g black ground pepper
5g cayenne pepper
75g coarse wholemeal flour
25g rolled oats
- Combine the blood and fat together in a large bowl or bucket.
- Add the salt, spices and the herbs and mix thoroughly.
- Incrementally add the oats, flour and breadcrumbs and stop when the mixture has the consistency of wet porridge (you may need more or less than indicated in the ingredient list).
- Heat some oil in a pan and scoop out some of the mixture with a spoon and fry on both sides till cooked through. Check the seasoning and if required add more salt or spicing.
- Tie one end of your casings and fill with the blood using a funnel remembering to leave enough casing unfilled so that you can tie another knot at the end.
- Preheat the oven to 120°C and put the puddings in baking trays with 1-2cm of water.
- Seal the baking trays with tin foil and put in the oven for around 45 minutes. They are done when they reach an internal temperature of 71°C (if you don’t have a meat thermometer, check the puddings have firmed up and don’t appear to have any running liquid inside: they will have changed to a dark brown colour as well).
* If you are using natural casings then it’s advisable to fill with water (just tie one end and attach the other to the spout of the tap) to see if there’s any holes in them.