Of all blood, that of the hog is thought the richest, and this is always employed in France in their boudins of this kind, which are excellent.

The Cook and Housewife’s Manual (1826)

By the time Meg Dods published her classic of Scottish cooking, black puddings—or blood sausages—were well established in the culinary tradition of Berkeley County, where Scots-Irish and French Huguenots had settled along the banks of the Cooper River. On Barbados, whence came many of the early English settlers and African slaves, blood pudding and souse are still traditional Christmas dishes. Rice has replaced the oatmeal traditional in Scotland and the bread crumbs used in some parts of France (other French thickeners include apples, chestnuts, and spinach) in my version of this surprisingly delicate sausage. This sausage is not heavy like the Cajun and German versions but light and creamy like its French cousins.

It is illegal in most states to sell pig’s blood, so the culinary tradition of making blood sausages has all but disappeared. Only in pockets of the Lowcountry where farmers still butcher their hogs will you find someone who knows this old bit of charcuterie. The only current local cookbook in which I have found a recipe is Billie Burn’s collection, Stirrin’ the Pots on Daufuskie (1985), from Daufuskie Island, which is still separated from the mainland by the lack of a bridge. I go to my butcher’s on slaughter day with a bucket to catch the fresh blood. He gives it to me to bait sharks, but what I really do is make blood pudding. A tablespoon of salt or vinegar stirred into a quart of fresh blood will prevent coagulation.

I serve these sausages on a cold winter night with spinach and mashed potatoes—half white and half sweet—mixed with a little milk and butter. They also make a fine appetizer, on a bed of caramelized onions.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked long-grain white rice
  • 2 cups cream
  • 1 teaspoon Quatre-Épices
  • 2 tablespoons salt (4 if vinegar instead of salt was used in the blood)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 quarts fresh pig’s blood plus 2 tablespoons ( cup) salt
  • 2 pounds fresh pork fat
  • 2 pounds onions, chopped
  • 6 4-foot lengths of prepared hog casings, knotted at one end, rinsed well, and placed in a bowl of water

Method

Place the rice in the cream and set aside to soak while you continue with the recipe. Stir the seasonings into the blood. Dice the fat, place ½ pound of it in a heavy Dutch oven, and cook until it melts. Add the onions and cook slowly until the onions are translucent, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat. Add the rest of the fat and the rice/cream mixture to the pot. Stir the mixture well and, when it has cooled, add the seasoned blood, stirring well.

Now, put on an apron and cover your work surface with something like a large cookie sheet; you cannot help making a mess with the liquid sausage stuffing. Slip the unknotted end of the prepared casing over the end of a plastic funnel, holding the casing tightly with one hand so that it does not slip off. Ladle the mixture through the funnel into the casing, then tie it off in 4-inch lengths.

Simmer the sausages in water, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until a pricked sausage oozes brown, not blood. Because the sausages are very fragile, this simmering is accomplished best with a wire basket for deep frying. When cool, wrap well in plastic wrap. They will keep refrigerated for several days or in the freezer for several months.

To cook blood puddings, simply prick them lightly in a couple of places and fry or grill them.

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