Culinaria: JP McMahon on cooking with blood

Most black pudding in Ireland is made with dried blood. Though it is often difficult to find black pudding made with real blood, there are a few Irish butchers producing this product

Most of us would flinch at the sight of a cup of blood, but many cultures, including the Inuit people, drink raw blood for its health properties.

Most of us would flinch at the sight of a cup of blood, but many cultures, including the Inuit people, drink raw blood for its health properties.

 

Blood is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it does have a rich history of being used in cooking. Our own tradition of making black pudding pays homage to the long tradition of blood sausages made all over the world. Though named differently, morcilla (Spain), boudin noir (France), blodpudding (Sweden) and mustamakkara (Finland), all bear a collective affinity to the Irish breakfast staple.

In recent years, black pudding has become extremely fashionable in restaurants. It pairs well with many things, including scallops and pork belly. I like to make a quick black pudding sauce with PX sherry and chicken stock (equal parts) to serve with lightly grilled venison loin.

Most of us would not distinguish between black pudding made with fresh blood and black pudding made with dried blood. Most black pudding in Ireland is made with dried blood. Though it is often difficult to find black pudding made with real blood, there are a few Irish butchers producing this product. My preference is McCarthy’s of Kanturk, but Inch House in Co Tipperary also make a wonderful real black pudding.

All our blood sausages are made with pig’s blood, mixed with oats and barley. Around the world a variety of blood is used from many different animals such as duck (China), goat (Kenya) and sheep (Mongolia).

Most of us would flinch at the sight of a cup of blood, but many cultures, including the Inuit people, drink raw blood for its health properties. If you can get your hands on fresh blood, you can make a wonderful sauce that pairs well with white fish. Take 600ml of blood and mix with 300ml of cream and 100ml of malt vinegar. Warm in a pot until the sauce reaches a temperature of 70 degrees Celsius. Hold this temperature for 12 minutes then blend the sauce until smooth. Season to taste.

The sauce will be the same colour as black pudding, so just tell your guests that it’s black pudding sauce. That’s what I do.

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