European Peasant Cookery
by Elisabeth Luard
English black puddings, traditionally a by-product of the autumn slaughter, are made with pig's blood, though in earlier times, the blood from sheep or cattle was also used. The blood is bulked with a cereal - oatmeal or barley - and enriched with suet. In some districts, the liver was included in the home-made mix; still others - those who came under the influence of the Vikings - include raisins for a touch of sweetness. The pudding-mix is stuffed into casings which, in some districts, were brushed with blood before baking to give them their characteristic black skin. In the south and west of the country, the mixture is not made into sausages but baked in shallow earthenware pans. Here I give a recipe from Westmorland — lightened with bread and delicately spiced - well worth making if you are fortunate enough to be able to slaughter your own pig.
Quantity: Serves 4-8
Time: Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour
• 1 litre (2 pints) fresh pig's blood, stirred as it cools to keep it from solidifying
• 1 litre (2 pints) skimmed milk
• 250g (8 oz) bread cut into cubes
• 500g (1 Ib) cooked whole barley grains
• 500g (1 Ib) fresh beef suet
• 250g (8 oz) pinhead oatmeal (from the health-food store - not rolled or porridge oats)
• 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled mint
• Utensils: 2-3 large roasting tins and a large bowl
Put the bread cubes to soak in the milk in a warm oven (do not heat the milk beyond blood temperature). Have the blood ready in a large bowl, and pour the warm milk and bread into it. Stir in the cooked barley. Grate the beef suet into the mixture and stir it up with the oatmeal.
Season with the salt, pepper, and mint.
Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/Gas 4.
Grease the roasting tins thoroughly. Divide the mixture between them — they should not be more than three quarters full. Bake for about an hour, until the pudding is well cooked through. This makes a beautifully light pudding which will keep well.
To serve, cut into squares and fry till heated through and crisp on the outside, in bacon fat or butter. Delicious for breakfast, or for supper with fried apples and mashed potato.
All the nations of Europe have their own black puddings. The French like theirs pale with cream and eggs, the Spaniards flavour theirs with paprika, marjoram and garlic, the Scandinavians like theirs sweetened with raisins and will eat them with sugar and molasses.