Umami, earthy, slightly sweet and salty with a cake like mouthfeel, black pudding is a traditional accompaniment to “traditional” English breakfast.
Initially, I was indeed squeamish about eating black pudding, also known as blood sausage, but in light of sustainable and “no waste” consciousness, I felt it was important to give it a try. To my surprise, I found it quite enjoyable. There are various recipes for black pudding depending on the region or even the country, however, they all tend to have a foundation of ingredients which include, onions, a grain (I prefer oats), pork fat and blood. These ingredients are mixed together then put into a casing of some type so they can be sliced and grilled, fried, baked, or otherwise cooked for a meal.
Almost every culture that consumes meat has a variation of blood sausage, this from the days of valuing and consuming every part of the animal. It’s only in recent history that we’ve had the luxury of picking and choosing and ultimately wasting parts of the animals that we’ve chosen to eat.
From a culinary perspective, it might be easier to find a reputable, sustainable source for your black pudding rather than trying to make it yourself. Then you can fry it up for breakfast, bake some up for dinner, or serve it up as a small plate option. If you wanted to try to make your own, the most challenging part would be to get a hold of some blood. Short of having to find your own pig and do the deed yourself, there are options, believe it or not, to purchase dried blood and reconstitute it (slightly freaky to think about, but apparently this is how most of the chefs do it). I’m sort of on the fence about all of this, on the one hand, I don’t want to be a hypocrite and shy away from the process, however, on the other hand, the thought of stirring up some blood and oats in the kitchen seems a bit daunting. Trust that I will keep you all posted if I end up giving it a try.
From a health perspective, believe it or not black pudding is really good for you. It is high in protein and minerals, like zinc and iron, and also possesses all the nutritional qualities of the added ingredients like oats. Remember that oats are little rock stars. As with any food, the closer they are to their natural state, the better they are for you. They are a great source of fiber and various vitamins and minerals. Studies demonstrate that the inclusion of oats in your diet can help with cholesterol, decrease the potential for colorectal cancer, and help balance blood sugar. Oats are also a great prebiotic, increasing the production of short chain fatty acids that aid in helping you have a happy belly. Add that to the power of nutrient dense blood and black pudding becomes quite a powerhouse of nutritional goodness.
Caveat: Make sure you are eating quality ingredients, from animals that have been sustainably raised with conscious animal husbandry practices. I’ve seen some recipes that use corn meal as the filler rather than oats, avoid those at all costs. Traditionally made, organic/sustainable, quality ingredients are the only way to go.