It’s time for another item from the DC Omnivore 100 list of the top one hundred foods every good omnivore should try at least once in their lives.
Let’s get over the squeamishness now, and call a spade a spade. Black pudding is blood sausage. Ahhhh…I said BLOOD! Now we know what we’re eating and we can directly correlate it to a real live animal, not some amorphous substance. So now that we’ve established that, freaked out a tad and gotten over it, let’s talk about how delicious black pudding is.
In its simplest form, black pudding is a combination of onions, a few herbs, barley, bread crumbs, meat, seasonal vegetables, or heavy spices and, typically, pork or cow blood. I supposed for some it’s the incorrect assumption that the only ingredient in black pudding is blood that makes it SO unappealing. However, the best black pudding does not use too much blood, and has an even mixture of the other ingredients. It’s this perfect combination that makes the flavor of black pudding to be so rich, complex and delicious.
Traditionally, black pudding is served as part of a full English breakfast, such as the one I recently enjoyed at Ireland’s Four Courts in Arlington, VA. A full English breakfast gets you a few slices of black pudding, eggs (cooked to your liking,) baked beans, fried tomatoes, hash browns, toast, bacon, white pudding (a relative of black pudding but sans blood) and perhaps a few other odds and ends depending on the cook and restaurant you’re at. If you’re new to black pudding, the small amount provided as part of the meal will be an excellent way to sample this iron rich, savory treat. And if you don’t like it, at least you’re left with plenty of “friendly” food.
Another fantastic locale to enjoy a classic full breakfast and black pud is The British Pantry just west of Chantilly, VA. Here, you can also order other traditional English fare like Shepard’s pies, mushy peas or cream teas. Yum! If you’re in Maryland, check out the Scottish Royal Mile High pub in Wheaton, and good options in DC are the Dubliner and Elephant & Castle.
Should you miss out on the full breakfast by sleeping in, ask if you can swap out the fish in fish and chips with black pudding. The substitution may not be good for your cholesterol, but it will be super good for your soul.
Personally, having grown up with a British mum, I tend to think of black pudding (and any sort of sliced breakfast sausage) as an English/Scottish/Irish culinary delight, but there are many different variants from all over Europe and America. For instance, in the south Boudin Noir, a French version, is served at many restaurants and roadside stands. The Spanish version, morcilla de burgos, contains a good amount of rice, which adds a fantastic texture to the savory sausage and can be found at Esperpanto in DC. And in Germany, a country well known for its sausages, you can find Blatwurst, which in Rhineland is traditionally made from horse meat. The wide variety of regional preparations makes blood sausage a culinary adventure definitely worth trying.
Should you fancy some black pudding or any other variants for your home, they can be found at the South Hall of Eastern Market or at specialty shops like Classic Cigars & British Goods in Clarendon, VA.