Véres hurka, morcilla, kaszanka, Blutwurst, boudin noir… Black pudding, aka blood sausage or blood pudding (thank you Kelly and Mr. Three-Cookies!), exists in most European countries or maybe even in all of them. I have a confession to make: I’m a real black pudding freak. Travelling one hour only to buy a piece of good quality black pudding doesn’t scare me at all. I am always curious about a new butcher’s blood pudding and when I go abroad, I am thrilled to taste local versions.
Black pudding contains blood and it is actually the only recurrent ingredient. The shape, the animal, the binding agent, the spices or the casing depend on countries, regions or even on particular butchers. In France, where I buy my black pudding (the Swiss ones have always been disappointing), onions and fat act as “binders”, but some regions (for example Bordeaux) use rice, which is also popular in certain Spanish regions and in Hungary. British black pudding contains oatmeal, while barley and buckwheat are Polish kaszanka’s “fillers”. Not to mention various spices, herbs or offal cuts used to fill the casings.
Even though black pudding is usually cheap and considered a second-category product, I often prefer it in restaurants rather than a piece of bland, farmed salmon, an ordinary steak or another “more elegant” dish. Just like in the case of many humble products, really good black pudding is difficult to get, while disgusting, low-quality ones are galore. If you have never had it and a basic, supermarket brand is the first you taste, it might put you off this delicacy forever. From my experience a good butcher or a renowned producer is crucial and certainly more important than in the case of more expensive and more popular items.
I have almost forgotten to add that black pudding is very rich in iron and low fat versions are quite healthy. I have already heard about doctors advising black pudding to women, who apparently often lack iron.
Since I like spicing up my black pudding, I often have it on toasts with the Korean gochujang paste (see the recipe here). This upside-down tart is my all time favourite black pudding dish. A couple of years ago, when I saw a black pudding and apple tart recipe (unfortunately I don’t remember where), I automatically added onions and chili and it has become practically a staple. When I have guest and prepare finger food, I simply transform this tart into small individual tartlets. The preparation is easy, quick and the softness of the filling contrasting with the crunchiness of puff pastry make this humble – ingredient – based dish almost elegant and sophisticated. I usually have it with a salad lightly seasoned with mustard vinaigrette. Of course any kind of black pudding can be used here.
Ingredients (serves 4 – 5):
1 puff pastry sheet (finely rolled out, to about 3 mm)
300 g blood pudding without the casing
2 medium onions
1 big apple
sweet dried pepper
hot chili (I have used here the beautiful Korean chili flakes)
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Slice the onion, sprinkle it with salt and fry in oil until it softens.
Peel the apple and cut into 2- 3 mm slices.
Cut the black pudding into 2-3 mm slices too.
Grease a round baking dish with butter, sprinkle with chili and sweet pepper.
Cover with black pudding slices.
Put over them a layer of fried onions and apples.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cover everything with a puff pastry sheet tucking well the sides downwards.
Prick the surface with a fork.
Bake about 1 hour until it becomes golden brown.
Make sure, with a knife, that the pastry doesn’t stick to the sides of the dish.
Put a serving plate over the baking dish (bottom side up) and carefully turn the tart upside down. (Do it preferably over a kitchen sink.)
If some black pudding or apple pieces haven’t fallen into the plate, simply arrange them on the tart afterwards.
You may sprinkle it with some more chili just before serving.
Serve with a lightly seasoned salad.