Many cultures have some form of blood sausage in their culinary heritage, although it is a particular feature in Celtic regions.
Two main ingredients are absolutely vital in all forms of blood sausage or pudding and that is of course blood and salt.
Blood is usually pigs blood but can be from any animal really, for instance in Lapland you can find blood sausages made using reindeer blood. Salt acts as the preserving element.
Cultures will have different spices, herbs and cereals that they add to flavour and stiffen their blood puddings or sausages.
In France, it is generally breadcrumbs, Spain and Latin America use rice while in Ireland and the UK it is almost always oatmeal or barley.
French ‘boudin’ uses cream to enrich the blood mixture while here we use diced pork fat.
The casing for all types of blood puddings is almost always the animal’s intestine, except where none is used and a terrine type baking tin forms a mould.
In the infamous Cork drisheen version, they cook the blood in a bowl instead of piping it into a skin, using milk, some form of cereal and seasoning.
It is also often made with sheep’s blood instead of pig’s blood and has an almost jelly like consistency, not for the fainthearted.
We have tried many types of blood pudding on our travels, from ‘boudin noir’ to ‘haggis’ but we would gladly choose to eat our very own black pudding any day of the week.
There seems to be a snobbery around our home-grown food products, especially some of the more old-school ones which use offal like tripe, crubeens, kidneys and indeed black pudding.
We have relegated them in our own minds to being old fashioned, common and not worthy of international recognition.
We personally believe black pudding is a hugely versatile, tasty and unique Irish product which is so much more than just being an add-on in a full Irish breakfast.
Waking up on a cold morning and coming downstairs to find two glass bottles of milk, a glass bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice and six fresh eggs left at your front door is something from our recent past that I really think should have a resurgence.
What a wonderful thing, especially in the countryside where to be without milk and eggs is a most inconvenient thing.
2 fresh eggs, organic preferably
2 large slices of good quality black pudding such as O’Herlihy’s or Rosscarbery
225g of chestnut mushrooms sliced thinly (or half chestnut and half chantarelles)
1 shallot, chopped into small dice
125ml of cream
1 tbsp of chopped parsley
1 tsp of chopped chives
Juice of half a small lemon
Salt and pepper
Place a large, heavy based saucepan on medium heat and add the butter.
When melted, add the chopped onions and cook for five to 10 minutes until softened.
Season the sliced mushrooms well with salt and black pepper.
If using chantarelles it is okay to leave them whole or break up the larger onion gently.
Add the mushrooms and stir through with the onion and butter, you can add a little drizzle of olive oil and increase the heat.
Cook for around 10 minutes until soft, brown and smelling nutty.
Add the cream and allow to bubble, reduce the heat and add the lemon juice and herbs. Serve immediately.
Place the black pudding under the grill for around 10 minutes, turning once.
Make sure you use really good quality eggs that are fresh.
Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to a simmer and add a few dashes of white vinegar.
I find it best to crack the eggs separately into a small cup or bowl.
Create a whirlpool and slowly tip the eggs one at a time in. Cook for around three minutes.
Remove from water on to kitchen paper using a slotted spoon. Cut away any scraggly bits.
Season lightly with salt and pepper.
Place the black puddings on a warm place, place the poached eggs on tops and assemble the mushroom à la crème over everything.
This is best for winter when it is cold outside and you need something to stick to your bones.
Garnish with some freshly chopped parsley.
This is our version of a black pudding ragu, which we like to serve with buttery ribbons of good tagliatelle.
We have taken inspiration here from two of our food heroes and our version lies somewhere in-between both of their recipes.
Niamh Shields, better known as ‘eatlikeagirl’ and Ballymaloe graduate Thomasina Miers both make delectable and indulgent black pudding ragus but in very different ways.
We like both recipes so much that instead of choosing which to follow, we started to make our own hybrid version taking the elements we liked the best.
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 medium onions, finely diced
1 stick of celery, finely diced
400g of good quality black pudding, cases peeled off
2 sprigs of rosemary, needles chopped finely
250ml of red wine
1 tbsp of smoked paprika
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper and sea salt
50g parmesan, grated
Heat some oil in a large frying pan or casserole and add the onion, carrot and celery on a medium heat.
Season lightly with salt and stir around the pan until everything has softened but not coloured, around 10 minutes.
Add the paprika, some black pepper and the rosemary and stir into the veg before adding the black pudding, breaking it up with the wooden spoon.
Cook for five minutes or so before adding the red wine, cooking for another five minutes and then adding the chopped tomatoes.
Bring to the boil and then let simmer for around 40 minutes. Season to taste.
Cook the tagliatelle in salted boiling water until al dente and then drain and coat with butter.
Serve the ragu spooned over the buttery tagliatelle and cover with grated parmesan and chopped parsley.
Salads don’t have to be complicated affairs to be impressive or satisfying.
You don’t need lots of elements brought together in a big bowl or dressings with too many ingredients, some of which you have had to search for in specialist stores.
The best salads are often those which have the fewest ingredients in the salad itself and in the dressing.
This one has a handful of simple elements, relying on the strong, earthy, saltiness of the black pudding, the zingy, slightly sweet dressing and the satisfying crunch of crisp lettuce and golden croutons.
4 thick slices of slightly stale sourdough, crusts removed and cubed
3 tbsp of olive oil
3 romaine hearts, leaves separated
80g parmesan shaved
250g black pudding, sliced into half-inch rounds
For the dressing:
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Good pinch of sea salt
5 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Cracked black pepper
200g greek yoghurt
50g grated parmesan
Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a bowl, leave to the side or chill in the fridge while you make the salad.
Fry or grill the black pudding however you prefer to do it, until it is black and crisp on the outside but still a little smooth within. Leave to the side.
Make the croutons by frying the cubed bread in hot olive oil until golden, remove with a slotted spoon and leave to dry on a tea towel.
Wash the romaine leaves and arrange on a nice large salad bowl and season with salt.
Add the black pudding and croutons to the bowl and drizzle everything withthe greek yoghurt dressing and nice big shavings of parmesan.