Home-made morcilla, Mark 2…

I took down the original recipe as it needed tweaking. As it turned out, it made a decent morcilla-style black pudding (without the paprika, which I forgot), but I felt it could be better. This is the revised version.

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Read the addendum, here, before diving in, it’ll save you a lot of mess when washing up. Pics of the finished product, too.

This is my recipe for a Morcilla de Burgos-style black pudding. Yes, I know that here in England, we have a long tradition of blood-pudding making, but without the traditional pork back fat – unobtainable by normal mortals – I had a look at what Spain had to offer (or, rather, stumbled across it watching TV).

They, too, have a long tradition of blood-puddings, called morcilla. The standard morcilla has back fat, so that’s out, but the Castillian town of Burgos has its own take on it, using rice and sweetly-fried onions instead of fat – problem solved. Other regions of Spain have their own versions, some highly spiced, others with fruit, like apples and/or raisins, which I want to try at some point.

Normally morcilla are made in natural casings called ox (or beef), runners, but as my cooking ability is seriously circumscribed and unpredictable (too ill most of the time), anything that can go off isn’t feasible, and the artificial casings I use for my sausages don’t come in a large enough size. I could buy plastic black pudding casings, but I don’t have a pan big enough to poach half-metre lengths of morcilla so, as many butchers make their black pudding in loaf tins, I thought I’d do that too.

So, this is the recipe, and the gods of pig cookery smiled on me, as although this was pretty much cobbled up as I went along, based on a short TV clip that showed part of the process and from which I was able to extrapolate relative quantities, it all turned out well.

The recommended blood/water  mix that I used last time was 1 part blood to 2.3 parts water, which is pretty bland – this time I’ve kept the same amount of water but increased the blood by 50%, and I’m hoping the additional blood will fix that. Likewise the additional salt, which the Spanish add not by the spoonful but by the handful!

I was also concerned, last time, that the finished product was too soft, but having since bought some commercial morcilla I found out that it’s naturally soft and, also, that the flavour is bland too, but as I say, I think I can fix that. Important, too, is not to forget the paprika, as I did last time, although it wasn’t a complete failure as it made an acceptable black pudding in a fry-up.

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The Recipe

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300g paella rice, cooked in lightly salted water until almost soft – not totally, so it will absorb liquid as the morcilla is cooked – and cooled

900g onion (unpeeled weight) peeled and finely chopped

1 generous tablespoon lard (I have a jar of my own, hoarded like gold!) Don’t be tempted to use oil, dripping, duck or goose fat – the flavours will be totally wrong – lard is rendered pork fat

2 or 3 tablespoons sweet paprika – depending on taste – this should be Spanish smoked paprika, traditionally, but I loathe it, so it’s going to be sweet, but still Spanish

½ teaspoon black pepper – you don’t want to dominate the paprika

3 teaspoons teaspoon fine sea salt – this needs more salt than you might think,

225g dried pigs’ blood

345g lukewarm water

Spoons are, as always, measuring spoons.

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Melt the lard and cook the onions over a low heat until they’re softened and sweet, but NOT browned (this would add bitterness). You can’t rush this process – it must be done over a low heat). My electric cooker has solid rings, so I use one much smaller than the pan to keep the heat down.

When the onions are done, tip into a large sieve over a suitably-sized pan, to drain (the onion will absorb some lard, but you don’t want them swimming in the stuff), leave for about half an hour, then return to the pan they were cooked in and leave to cool.

Set the pan with the lard and any liquid (onions can give off a little liquid when fried gently), over a brisk heat and reduce – you want the liquid to evaporate off. This will leave you with some intensely oniony fat – keep in a tightly-closed jar in the fridge – never throw flavours like that away.

The above quantities will be enough for two 2lb loaf tins of the type normally sold (i.e. with sides that are too low for a proper loaf). If you bake and have proper loaf tins, I suggest buying others for this as it’s impossible to get all the blood out of the corner seams, and it’ll taint future loaves.

I did, in fact, buy a Sainsbury’s Non Stick 2lb Loaf Tin, which is so large it will hold the entire mix, which I intend to use in future. Can’t give you a link – the website doesn’t work that way – but this is the product code 7542093.

Day one I cooked the rice and onions, allowing both to cool before seasoning with black pepper and mixing. Covered tightly with clingfilm and into the fridge for the night.

Day two** I mixed the blood (dissolve the salt in the luke-warm water before adding the blood). I’d read that dried blood is hard to mix, so I used my stand mixer with the whisk attachment at a low speed. In the event it turned out not to be hard at all – an ordinary whisk or a hand mixer would have been equally effective and less washing-up! (NB: It doesn’t look much like blood, but the squeamish might want to delegate.) Mixing the blood with the rice and onion by hand (wearing a disposable glove), is by far the easiest way, and took seconds.

**It needn’t take 2 days – start early enough to allow the rice and onions to cool – they don’t have to be at fridge temperature – before adding the blood and you can do it all in one day – it’s just that we spoonies often don’t have the option of starting early.

Then I left it to settle to see if I had too much blood or too little. Too much and the solids will sink (fixable with breadcrumbs – I always have a bag in the fridge for sausage-making), too little and it’ll be dry and more blood would be needed – fortuitously the proportions were perfect. The mix needs to be very moist, but with little or no free liquid visible (I watched it being made on TV in Rick Stein’s Spain, but the recipe was omitted from the book, which is why this is a bit by guess and by god, but I could see the mix was sloppy, not liquid.

I filled the lightly greased loaf tins equally, then baked them in a bain marie, in the middle of the oven, at 150C for 60 minutes, then removed them to the worktop to cool, covered with foil and a towel to continue cooking in the residual heat and to avoid them drying out too much. I don’t really know if this is necessary, but I’m making this almost entirely on the fly so better safe than sorry.

And that’s pretty much it. Turn out when cold, slice thickly and fry in a little oil (it freezes well too, wrapped in foil, or clingfilm and bagged).

NB: Two things – don’t use a bain marie, it stops the bottom cooking properly, and line the tin(s), either with a greased paper case or greased baking parchment, because the cooked pudding sticks tenaciously, even to a greased, non-stick tin and is a real bugger to remove! I’ve also thought that greasing the tins might have been a mistake, causing a layer of blood to burn and stick.

Note: I bought my pig’s blood here.

  

It’s been suggested that, as a #spoonie,** I could rate my recipes using #spoonie spoons, so I shall, starting now. 1 spoon = very easy to 5 spoons = doable but take it easy, maybe over 2 days, 6 spoons = get someone else to do it! This one gets 2 spoons purely because of the chopping of the onions; technically it’s very easy. Using a food processor to chop the onions makes it just 1 spoon. I’m not convinced that food processors save much time or effort with something like this – you still have to cut stuff up to fit down the filler tube, and then wash the thing when you’ve finished, so any savings are probably minimal. They do come into their own, I think, for slicing (uniform), or grating (fast), or for chopping extremely finely, but for this I’m dubious.

**See this website for lots of info on The Spoon Theory, particularly if you suffer from chronic illness and have trouble coping – The Spoon Theory provides an easy way to explain how and why this is to others. In a nutshell, we start each day with a finite number of spoons; everything we do uses up our spoon allocation (for example, making a cup of tea or coffee might use up one spoon, getting ready to go out, on the other hand, could consume most of  our spoons), until we run out of spoons/reach exhaustion – simple, but inspired.

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