Black pudding and apples

Nick Lander, the original owner of the reopened L’Escargot, is from Lancashire like me, and his only stipulation, as I planned the first menu for him, was that Bury black puddings be on it. They arrived courtesy of Red Star Express twice a week, and were a huge hit from the very first lunch. Lancashire black pudding, whilst indubitably the best in the world, can under certain conditions tend towards dryness. This was got round by poaching the sausages in gently simmering water. They were drained and slapped on a grill to mark them and at least partially crisp the skin. Possibly Lancashire’s only real competition as a producer of this most perfect of sausages is Normandy, where they are inevitably paired with apples. Not wishing to be totally chauvinistic, Nick and I decided to combine the best pudding with a little French flair in garnishing.

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Ingredients

  • 1 good-quality black pudding (do not buy pre-sliced or those huge industrial grade ones)
  • 1 dessert apple, peeled, cored and segmented, then rubbed with a little lemon juice to prevent discolouring
  • salt and pepper
  • 20 g butter

Method

Poaching the Black Puddings

Select a pan large enough to hold the puddings comfortably, half fill it with water, and bring to a simmer. Salt the water, add the puddings and poach very gently for 15 minutes; on no account let the water boil as this will destroy the puddings’ appearance and taste, and dry them out. While they are simmering, prepare and cook the apple. Heat a ridged grill pan to very hot as well.

Cooking the Apples

What type of apple is your choice, but do not use cookers unless you want to serve the pudding with apple sauce (however, not such a bad idea). Any well-flavoured native type would be ideal.

Heat a frying pan on a moderate flame, toss in the butter and as soon as it melts add the apple segments. Sauté, still over the same heat, until golden brown; do not overcrowd the pan or stir the apples around too much, as both will produce mushy fruit. Turn the slices carefully with a spatula once or, at a stretch, twice during the sautéeing, which will only take 2 or 3 minutes anyway. Season the apples with a little salt and set aside.

Grilling the Black Puddings

Lift the puddings from their liquor and drain for a few moments. Place on the hot grill and allow to brown for 2 minutes without disturbing them at all. Turn them and give the other side a further 2 minutes. Do not get too fancy with this grilling process, a partial marking and crisping of the skin is all we are after.

Serving

You may need to reheat the apple segments, a low oven for 3-4 minutes would do. Personally I wouldn’t bother. Always offer a good mustard.