Black Pudding – It’s A Bloody Pleasure!

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It’s A Bloody Pleasure!   Virgil Evetts

We’re fickle, delusional creatures us humans. We like to tell ourselves that we’re risk takers, adventurers, masters of all we survey. But you only have to look at how safely most of us eat to know that’s just not true.
Ultimately, no mater how articulate we are in the kitchen; our eating habits are led by our upbringing, our preconceptions and sorry, – our ignorance. We deny ourselves so many exciting new flavours and textures, because we don’t like how it smells, how it looks or what it’s made from. Partly that’s our instincts keeping us alive, but its mostly just narrow-mindedness.

Take durian for example, a ferociously spiky, indescribably pungent fruit popular throughout South East Asia. Its understandable that you will probably recoil from durian initially, but if you’re awfully brave and just bit grown-up about it, if you force yourself beyond that almost tangible stink, you’ll find something so disarmingly complex that unless told otherwise you’d assume it was crafted by a prodigiously talented [and slightly unhinged] chef. That’s not to say you will actually like it. But how would you know if you don’t at least try?
This is just one example of the many adventures we deny ourselves by skulking in our boring little comfort zones.

Now to be fair, durian is pretty extreme food. I like it, but only in small doses. A more accessible food that is often feared and reviled but is somewhat closer to my heart is black pudding. It’s one of the great gastronomical dividers.
A lot of people of a certain age will salivate at the mere mention of it, just about everyone else will be appalled by the very thought of the stuff, despite never having tried it.
I’m a bit of an anomaly myself, as I’m relatively young and adore black pudding. As a child I ate slices of it straight from the fridge the way other kids ate luncheon sausage. Once again though, this is probably not the best initiation for the newbie to a slightly out-there food.
Yes, black pudding really is made from blood. A lot of blood. But is that really so terrible?
We [most of us] happily eat the muscles of animals, their organs, fill their intestines with more of the above and eat that too, make desserts from their hooves and make cheese with their digestive secretions. So what’s the difference?
Although slight variations exist all over Europe and parts of Asia, blood sausages, black pudding, budin noir and so on are all essentially the same thing. Animal blood, usually beef or pig is mixed with ground meat of the same and various cereals, seasoned and stuffed into sausage casings.
The raw sausage is then cooked in boiling water, which causes the blood to congeal [not a food-friendly word, I know], thus setting the sausage.
Once cooled, black pudding is usually sliced and sautéed in butter or dripping. So that’s provenance and process laid bare but obviously you’ll want to know what you’re getting yourself into taste-wise too.

Probably not what you expect.
Black pudding has a very mild flavour and it doesn’t have any of the metallic quality you might expect from blood. It’s certainly meaty, slightly sweet and with a distinctly fudgy texture, which crisps and caramelise quickly in the pan. It’s an uncomplicated, rather comforting food. I particularly enjoy thick slices sautéed in butter with apples, a good slug of cider or white wine and something like ciabata to mop up the juices.
In much of Britain, back pudding is eaten at breakfast. I don’t really do breakfast myself, so when I have black pudding it tends to be for dinner or a snack.

Black Pudding for beginners
If you’re already a fan, you’ve probably had something like this before. It’s nothing new, just a gentle, crowd pleaser really. And if you’re a black pudding virgin [so to speak], it won’t be nearly as bad as you think. You might even like it, and if you don’t, well at least you’ve tried. Not a bad epitaph actually. At least he tried.
What goes in:
Black pudding
Crisp apple- peeled, cored and sliced
Cider or white wine
Bread- ciabatta or similar

What you do:
Slice the black pudding thickly. Finger thickness is a good guide.
Melt the butter in a medium sized pan on a medium-high heat. When sizzling, add the apple. Carefully brown, but don’t cook. Remove the apples from the pan and set aside Add the black pudding. Brown on both sides. This can a bit tricky to gage because of the colour of the sausage, but you’ll get the hang of it.. Remove the black pudding from the pan and set aside with the apples. Pour a good slug of cider or wine into the pan and swirl it around. Reduce slightly, season and briefly return the apples and pudding to the pan. Serve immediately and devour with bread and gusto.

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19 thoughts on “Black Pudding – It’s A Bloody Pleasure!

  1. Yep, it’s great. Do not stop here bro explore more. New Zealand offers us many more to satisfy our taste buds. Having a great meal in Petone restaurants is something different for me. I do not seek much.

  2. Have to agree with Ali. Harringtons is the best BP I’ve had in NZ. Brilliant texture and just the right hint of spice. Have had it at Rosehip cafe in Parnell and also at Hallertau in Kumeu – just in case you need a fix!!

  3. I wish I wasn’t so squeamish as I am sure I miss a lot of wonderful taste sensations but I just can’t be open minded to black pudding or offal. I have really tried but something inside me resists.

  4. As kids we were brought up on offal! Love it all – brains, kidneys, lambs fry, sweetbreads…..but my favourite would have to be Black pudding – if you haven’t been blooded, you haven’t lived. Weirdly vegetarians don’t like the stuff (oops).
    Have tried Blackball Black pudding and agree that it is really good but have to say my favourite is made by Harringtons in Wellington….its the best ever! Had to ask the chef at a cafe recently, where they got their supplies and now we know their secret….check out Harringtons Smallgoods, you wont be disappointed!!

  5. Tried BP for the first time in Balloch Scotland. The first bite creeped me out.
    Came back to Calgary and later bought some at MacEwens Meats! I have thought about why I like it now…I guess it’s a way to reconnect with the past. I expect family often ate BP in Scotland years ago…and loved it.
    I recall as a kid growing up in Quebec my mom at times would make some pretty wierd dishes (stuffed beef tongue and beef heart..recall it was pressed into a dish and had clear jelly around it) These were probably traditional dishes brought over from the UK. Certain this type of cuisine has died off….shame.

  6. I have curbed my cringes in view of all the glowing reports above about black puddings and emailed Ashby’s pleading with them to send me one – providing they can survive the jet lag.

    If that fails I will plead with Blackball and if that fails I will know that it is probably a good thing I forget about this project forevermore.

    Thanks Virgil for the challenge. I think.

  7. Me too — just caught up with this article and it brought back memories of my father and he teaching my sister and I how to make black pudding — I was 15 and Phillipa 13.

    He had arrived home from his uncles with big bucket of blood and another bucket with the intestines of a pig — can you imagine how grossed out we were? He was in such a good mood we went along with it. I had to stick my hand into the still warm blood and stir while he poured in rolled oats, so it wouldn’t coagulate too much, a stuffing of bread, onions and herbs then lots of chopped small pork fat (that was another pig) with the lard rendered out — prepared earlier in the day by my mother. I thought that hard, meanwhile outside Phillipa had the glorious task of washing out the intestines.

    We used a special funnel to fill the intestines, pretty difficult at first until you got the hang of it and then tied it off into lengths, then eased into boiling water, watching carefully so they wouldn’t burst — amazing to watch being that when it went into the pot small, they seemed to bloom. They were cooled then roasted. And this was forty years ago. Nothing like homemade.

    Will try Blackball. Like Luscutto(?) alot. Just hate Hellers.

  8. Hi – just caught up with this article, and I have to say that there most definitely IS a very superior black pudding produced in the South Island, by Ashby’s butchery in Papanui.

    I was raised in the UK, near Manchester, and for us BP was a staple food. One of my first jobs was in a pork butchery and, yes, we did make fabulous puddings. A favourite morning tea treat was a fresh one from the boilers, still hot. In the 70s I moved to the South of England and was horrified to try some of the flavoured sawdust concoctions foisted off on Southerners. Unfortunately the same applies to most NZ puddings. I’ve tried Blackball meats ones, and they are OK-ish, but anybody who fancies a real black pudding – English recipe (blood, pork fat, pearl barley and herbs) – needs to go to Ashby’s. The trick to frying slices of them is to use a dry pan and render out some of the fat so that you keep the fudgy texture and don’t dry the slices out too much. Alternatively you can poach them gently in water to heat them through, and eat them with English mustard on the side. You’ll find Ashby’s at 491 Papanui Rd, Ph (03) 3529529, and they also have a stall at Lyttelton Market on a Saturday

  9. Hi all
    Just a brief word from sunny, lovelly Thailand- Yes, I agree BP is extremly variable in NZ- varying from the appaling [particularly a certain brand ryhming with buttons]to pretty good. Unfortunatly it is unlikley to make it as an artisan product in NZ, due to fresh blood being rather difficult to come by. Large lumps of fat are not nessesarily a sign of a bad BP, in fact its one f the things I look for when buying BP, better still if it includes whole barley. These are both quite tradtional components in some versions and add flavour and texture. I recommend you shop around for one you personally enjoy. If you’re a newbie dont start with the cheapest. These are, as has been mentioned above little more than filler, colouring salt and nitrates. A pig may have exhaled in the vacinity at some point but little more. When I was A child our neigbours regularly agve us his farmer-sons home-made BP, and supurb stuff it was, meaty, fatty and full of barley. Ive been chasing that taste ever since…
    White pudding is quite a different beast, being largly composed of oats, a litte pork, bread crumbs, eggs, and seasoning. Its cooked in the same way and often to acompany BP. My mother has made it on occasion, and very good it is too.
    Thanks & Sawadee

  10. Hi Lynley,
    The quality of black pudding does fluxuate from very poor to reasonable and I must try the one made in Blackball. One other that has been better than most is a black pudding made by Creative Meats at Jackson Street Petone, he also used to make white pudding which was also very good. Regretfully he stopped making white pudding because there was not the demand for it. One thing that upsets me is the rapid escalation of price and I wonder if this has been caused by the trendy brigade as it has become popular for brunchs at designer cafes.

  11. My 10 year old and I love black pudding for an occasional breakfast.He would eat it more often if I let him.Our favourite way is very simple: lightly grilled Blackball Black Pudding , grainy toast and Lavender’s Green lemon mustard. Delicious. I think the secret is good quality. My mouth is watering as I write. Off to Moore Wilson’s to stock up. Thanks for the article.

  12. Hi Lynley,
    I love black pudding and have tried just about every brand there is in NZ to find a good one like the old days.
    By the far the very best is the one made in Blackball (South Island)and it is highly rated amongst my black pudding co horts.
    Can be purchased from Moore Wilson in Wellington or visit their website for other options.
    Certainly worth trying if you haven’t already.

  13. I agree wholeheartedly with Lynley. Current recipes seem to include huge chunks of fat or a very bland taste. The texture of yesteryear seems to have disappeared.
    Revive the old traditional black pudding. Perhaps we need to get Gordon or Jamie on the case.

  14. Lynley, I am in total agreement with you….todays black puddings can’t compete (flavour-wise) with those of yesteryear!

    Virgil, can you tell us what the white version of black pudding is made from please? While I enjoy this too, black pudding is my favourite and I never stop to think what it’s made from.
    Thanks for an interesting topic.

  15. Hi Virgil – are all black puddings created equal? or are the there local brands that are more or less filler-ful than others. My English father blooded us kids at an early age – but the black puddings I have tried in recent years just don’t measure up, I look wistfully, then walk on by anticipating culinary let-down….