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What Is...Black Pudding?

Black Pudding is…

The British and Irish iteration of a dish found everywhere that pigs are kept and killed, a sausage or pudding of spiced pig’s blood. In Spain, it might be thickened with rice, in Poland with buckwheat groats, while in Sicily you will find a version made solely of the blood seasoned with mint and chilli.

Traditionally, Black Pudding is heavy on oats or barley, studded with chunks of pork fat, and flavoured with the sweet spices typical of British charcuterie – mace or nutmeg, black pepper, or perhaps cinnamon. Historically it would also contain pennyroyal, a pungent and slightly toxic mint not often used culinarily in modern Britain.

Black Pudding Ingredients….

Black Pudding is a combination of suet or fat, grain or cereal, onion, seasoning and, there’s no denying it, cow or pig’s blood, all stuffed into a natural casing (animal intestine).

Several regions in Britain boast “their” black pudding recipe from several generations back. Even today, the producers will use their region’s most readily available ingredients. As a result, Black Pudding’s recipes will vary from region to region.

Lancashire puddings are traditionally made using pork fat and pearl barley whereas Scottish puddings are made using beef suet and oatmeal. To complicate matters even further, most producers will also have their unique recipe for the all-important use of seasonings – the herb and spice mix – but that tends to be a closely guarded secret.

Other factors that count are the ratio of blood to fats, the consistency and how the cereals & fats are incorporated. It‘s these variations that create the differences in appearance, texture and taste of Black Puddings.

Making Black Pudding….

You may not realise it, but the Black Puddings you buy, are cooked. You can, if you like, eat them cold although aficionados suggest they are best when fried, grilled, roasted or even barbecued.

To make your own, simply mix the ingredients*, stuff into casings, boil or steam until cooked through and leave to cool – It is through the latter process the puddings get their colour and, of course, their name.

RecipeHomemade Black Pudding

Chef Thom Eagle has also kindly shared his recipe for Black Pudding made in a loaf tin and baked in a bain-marie as part of a [Weschenfelder sponsored] series of articles highlighting the heritage of traditional, regional Charcuterie recipes.

RecipeBlack Pudding Loaf

* Details on buying blood and its availability are included in both recipes above.

On the Plate…

Breakfast!?! Trust me, Black Pudding is much more than a breakfast staple. Look at the menus of gastropubs in Britain and you’re bound to see Black Pudding for lunch, tea or supper.

Great flavour combinations include seafood – think scallops, a MasterChef favourite – chicken, pork, pheasant, red cabbage, leeks, onions…….I could go on and on.

You may be surprised to hear black pudding and chocolate also work well together. Have you ever tried Sanguinaccio Dolce (Italy) that extraordinary Italian dessert made with pig’s blood and chocolate? Nowadays, a well-known Scottish producer is including chocolate & chilli in one of their black puddings.

Recipe – Spicy Chorizo & Black Pudding

More Recipe Ideas

Taste Challenge…

If you’re a fan of Black Pudding, have you got a favourite? How many different ones have you tried? Which do you think is the best? Where is it from? Next time you have the chance, why not try a regional variation, you may be pleasantly surprised – or not! Let us know what you think!

Did You Know?

  • The first Bury Black Pudding was made and sold in 1810 at Casewell’s Pudding Shop on Union Street, Bury. The shop was demolished in 1968.
  • Marag Dubh” is the Gaelic name for Black Pudding. Marag is a “sausage made by cooking blood” and Dubh means “dark” – a fitting description.

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