The English breakfast is a massive undertaking. While its exact composition varies across the British Isles, ordering a full fry-up will get usually you bacon, eggs, sausages, potatoes, baked beans, mushrooms, tomato, and toast, at a minimum. And on this piled-high plate sits the brekker’s most notorious member—thick slices of black pudding. Translation? Blood sausage. Good morning, indeed.
I’d lived in London for several months before I first tasted black pudding. The idea of blood sausage had never appealed to me, and since I cooked for myself in my little flat kitchen, I hadn’t yet confronted the full-on breakfast. Until I visited an Irish friend, that is. He opened his refrigerator one morning to find it nearly empty. “All I have are eggs and things. Is that all right?”
To my American mind, eggs followed by “and things” means: bacon. Maybe toast. But ten minutes later, I was handed a plate of eggs, sausage, and thick, dark rounds of black pudding. Ah, yes. Blood for breakfast. I’d known about black pudding, sure—known that traditional restaurants or old Scottish grandmums might try to sneak it on my plate. But a 20-something city-living bachelor kept it on hand? Maybe this stuff was more than just a novelty.
So as a polite guest, I gingerly bit into a piece. And to my great surprise, it was delicious. Meaty, sweetly spicy, studded with barley and oats. It wasn’t nearly as strong or gamey as I thought—it didn’t taste tangy or, well, bloody at all. Hearty and warm, it settled nicely in my stomach, like a good breakfast should.
Cooking black pudding is easy. Finding it in the States is not. But New Yorkers can pick up ready-made rolls from Myers of Keswick in the West Village, and those without a British specialty store around can order it online.
The black pudding comes in a shrink-wrapped roll, like a sausage or liverwurst. Unlike a sausage, however, it has no casing; loose and crumbly, it should be handled with care. To prepare, cut half-inch slices from the roll. Heat a bit of oil in a pan, and carefully lay the pudding slices in the hot oil. Let cook for two or three minutes on each side. The slices will grow slightly crispy and much darker. Like a crab cake, each patty holds together much better when cooked.
So this American girl is one black pudding convert. Would you eat blood for breakfast?
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