Saturday, 19 February 2011

Black Pudding

(Please read this true story from the 1960's in a Lancashire accent as you will get more from it!)

I can recall a time as a child I was on holiday from school and as we could never afford to go away other than an odd day out at nearby Blackpool, we would congregate at my grand mothers house as that would be the coolest place to hang out. Here we would be with all our cousins and by heck they were loads of them and many uncles and aunts too, all of which would want feeding.

My grandma would count how many people were in the house and then send two of my cousins and myself to go and buy some black pudding, sausage and bacon from Harry Drivers corner shop. She would say, ask Mr Driver can we have it in the book til Friday, as this was payday and all outstanding bills would be paid on this day. Harry Driver was a small old man with bowed legs, I think he must have had a severe case of rickets or polio when he was younger and it seemed he wore a very long white smock to hide his disability.

On our return from the corner shop, my granddad asked, to make sure we went to the right shop “did yer get this from Harry Drivers?” of coarse we had, for we would not dare go anywhere else. My granddad went on to say “eeh that Harry Driver poor bugger, he could never play football nor stop a pig in a ginnel (passageway) with those legs”.

Well brunch was being cooked and the girls would be toasting bread on the open fire with long handled brass forks, also they would be much talking and laughter going on in the house, my grandma would laugh easily and so much so on this occasion she was choking with the giggles. She had to leave the house and go into the backyard as she was bringing up phlegm, a sight we saw often with our grandma as she was a smoker and often she would spit on the open fire where her deposits would crackle on the heat of the coals. This time as the house was full of guests she went to the long drop toilet that was situated in the corner of the backyard, a toilet of this type was normal for the houses up in the north in Lancashire, as very few houses then had bathrooms or flushing facilities. This would be a bench style wooden box with a hole in the middle, here the drop would be some six feet to the bottom, as kids sat on this long drop we used to pretend to be dam buster pilots on a mission, not that we could
ever imitate the bouncing bomb effect, you see it was fun releasing your bombs to the sound of the long awaited B’dush and your bombs reaching the water seem to take an age.

Shreds of newspaper would be hooked on to a bent nail for our use and if you were lucky you had the shiny waxy square sheets of San Izal (not that I ever knew which side to use, shiny or the dull side). To flush the loo, you had to return to the kitchen in the house and tip your waste washing up water down the sink where it would fall into a tipper box, when enough water was in the box it would tip with the over laden weight and the water would then gush in the direction of the long drop and flush away any solids.

My grandma coughing and spluttering had entered the long drop to spit and spit she did, but on this occasion out came her false teeth and straight down the loo they went. Well of coarse now everybody is laughing to the point of hysterics, as things calmed down the question was asked how on earth were we to get her teeth back? One of my uncles looked at us young boys and said “right then, lets have the smallest lad here then”, thankfully that was not me, for I was too broad in the shoulder, it was to be my smaller cousin Peter. He was taken or dragged screaming if I remember correctly to the long drop where he was taken by his ankles and dipped down the loo head first to feel for my grandma’s teeth, he complained vigorously about the poo down the loo and he was informed don’t be silly lad, they are just black puddings they won’t harm you! it was not long at all before he shouted he had found them. My uncle Clifford raised him back to the surface where Peter handed over the dentures to my grandma, she walked calmly back to the kitchen and quickly swilled her teeth under the cold water tap and popped them straight back into her mouth where she then carried on cooking brunch as if nothing had happened. I recall this memory often when I think of our family gathering and the cooking of that Full English with black pudding.

Black Pudding Basic Recipe

50% Pig’s Blood

25% Flare fat and head meat

25% Onions

Steeped pearl barley(optional)

Diced back fat to taste (optional)



Quatre Spices

First step is to melt the Flare fat and soften the onions without browning them and then put them through a blender and put them back into the fat once more. Now add the salt, pepper and spices and any other ingredients you may wish to flavour your sausage and this can include any pieces of diced back fat you may have. Whilst ensuring you never bring the mix to the boil add the blood to the mix via a sieve to take out any last minute lumps which may have formed and turn off the heat and blend all your ingredients together.

You can now fill your skins with a ladle and plastic funnel allowing your filled skins to rest inside a wire basket or metal colander whilst you bring to the boil a large pan of water, once boiled reduce the heat to 80 degrees centigrade and cook your puddings for 20 to 30 minutes, pricking any sausage which may float to the surface with a needle.

Barley and crushed oats along with pieces of back fat are the best ingredients for a British style sausage, as is adding the Bath Chaps along with meat from the head. For a French style sausage it would benefit from 10% cream and with either apples or even walnuts added, the French are excellent foragers and in the Autumn village folk are often seen walking the many country lanes harvesting all sorts of edible treats to add to their Boudin Noir.

Are you still laughing?

Friday, 11 February 2011

Chorizo (choreetho)

This post was requested by my blogging friend Sommer J of Germany, remember to come back and click through to view her food blog recipe that inspired this post.

A semi air-dried sausage that is, in my opinion, hugely under-estimated and not used enough in our everyday cooking repertoire. It can be used in many places, on pizza is probably a favourite, sliced chunks in a cassoulet or a hot soup really work well, as they do in pasta dishes and rice dishes such as paella. Recently I have seen it sold hot in Borough Market in London, where one of the stallholders offers a toasted bread roll filled with a grilled chorizo split lengthways along with roasted red peppers and a dressed salad. The queue for this feast was more than 20 deep! Does that tell you something?

Chorizo can be put in 36mm boar casings.

Tip: Replacing some of the water in the mix with olive oil plus a few shakes of Tabasco sauce works very well.

Another, and probably my favourite chorizo recipe is this semi air-dried sausage that, unlike salami, is not left to develop a white powdery mould on the surface.

7.5kg pork

1.5kg beef

240g salt

24g saltpetre (WARNING..please check the legal useage and amounts of saltpetre in your country before following this recipe)

20g ground black pepper

10g nutmeg

10g hot chilli powder

40g paprika

280g mild chilli powder

100ml olive oil


1. Trim the meat thoroughly, discarding any sinews.
2. Mince using a 5–6mm plate.
3. Add and blend the seasoning to the meat mix.
4. Fill 34–36mm boar casings and make to length, approximately 50cm.
5. Tie the two ends together using a fine butchers twine.
6. Pre air-dry at 25oC (77oF) for 6hrs, then air-dry for about 2 weeks at a constant 15c (60 oF) and 80% humidity.
7. The shelf life will be several weeks from the end of the drying stage.
8. Wiping with olive oil before sale or serving will enhance the appearance and colour of the sausages.
A large chorizo can be made using 54mm ox casings and with added back fat cut into thumbnail-sized pieces, add just enough to offer an alternative texture to the main mix. Of course the pre-drying and drying times need to be extended for the larger version. Once mature this chorizo can be served as thin slices.

Tip: When making air-dried or salami sausage it is best to remove all visible silver skin and sinews. Silver skin is the fine bluish film of skin you find in between the joint of two muscles, the outer skin on a tenderloin demonstrates this well. Use only trimmed lean meat then add back the fat to the mix before seasoning. Experiment with any recipe that takes your fancy, you will be surprised and maybe delighted with your efforts.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Mustard Spoon (bone)

On the hock end of a ham, you have two bones, one large and a smaller one. The smaller one being referred to as the Mustard Bone or Mustard Spoon.

Years gone past before the invention of meat thermometers, you tested your cooked ham for readiness by pulling at the mustard bone and if this came out relatively easily, then you knew your ham was fully cooked.

The bone would be the shape of a small mustard spoon as we know them today with a small bowl in the opposite end, which happens to be thicker. Here we would use the mustard bone to apply the mustard to our ham.

The same bone by holding it with our thumb in the bowl end and having the narrow end sharpened to a point, we could then use this bone to obtain a sniff test from our air-dried hams to ensure there is no spoilage in the centre. We just simply push in our mustard bone into our ham near to the centre as we can and withdraw the mustard bone and sniff. If there is any spoilage, you will notice it immediately. Ham spoilage attaches itself to bone far more easily than it could to a metal skewer for example.