Home-made morcilla, Mark 3…

This is a substantial revision of the – er – revised version. The results are very much better, especially using the large Sainsbury’s loaf tin and a paper liner, as described below, and tastier.

Fortuitously, as it turned out, I lost the previous batch when my overflow freezer accidentally defrosted, since this version is so much better, especially as it didn’t stick to the loaf tin, as the last lot did. It slices beautifully too.

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I know that, here in England, we have a long tradition of blood-pudding making, but without the pork back fat – unobtainable by normal mortals – making traditioal black pudding is impossible, so I had a look at what other countries had to offer (and stumbled across this while watching TV).

The Spanish, like other countries with an historical pig-based peasant economy, 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 cooked 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 my own recipe, based on about 4 minutes of TV footage showing the mixing, but as far as I’ve been able to tell, by buying a commercial version, it’s accurate. It’s also tastier. The gods of pig cookery smiled on me, as although this was pretty much cobbled up as I went along based, as I said, 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. And compared to a commercial version I bought, it is actually accurate, as well as tastier.

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The Recipe

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

900g onion (unpeeled weight) peeled and finely chopped

Lard, about 4 teaspoons in total  (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

4 tablespoons sweet paprika –  this should be Spanish smoked paprika, traditionally, but I loathe it, so it’s going to be sweet, but still Spanish. You could use less paprika, but if you don’t like it, why are you making this? Seriously, though, if you don’t like paprika, it makes a perfectly serviceable black pudding without it. I make both types.

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

4 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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In a large (8-inch diameter), saucepan, melt a good teaspoon of lard over a brisk heat, and add a quarter of the onions. As soon as they start to sizzle reduce to a medium-low heat and cook, without browning, until soft. Repeat until finished. Set the onions aside until cool. The pan, when you’ve finished, should be greasy – there should be no fat sloshing around.

Next, half-fill the same pan – DO NOT wash it, there’s a lot of flavour in that grease and onion shards – with cold water, add the rice, salt, and stir well (stir gently a couple of times during cooking, as this rice tends to stick. Top up with boiling water if  needed, probably about three-quarters of the way through cooking.  When almost soft, tip into a colander or large sieve, pour over about a quarter of a pint of boiling water, to rinse away some of the glutinous starch, and leave to drain and cool.

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.

Weigh the blood and put into a large bowl – I use a stand mixer with the flat beater at this stage  - sprinkle over the salt, add the pepper and paprika, and mix until well combined. Add the water and beat until well mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl once.  (NB: It doesn’t look much like blood, being almost black, but the squeamish might want to delegate.) It stains anything it touches, too, but washes out or off easily.

Raise the mixer head, allow the beater to drain, scraping off as much blood as you can with a spatula. Remove it and replace with the dough hook – this will mix in the onions and rice without breaking them up. Tip in the onions and mix well. Then the rice, having first broken up the inevitable clumps by hand, and mix on the slowest speed until combined. Raise the machine head again, and rummage in the depths of the bowl with a spatula – there should be no lumps.

You can, of course, do this by hand (wearing disposable gloves), which is just as quick – I use the mixer (a powerful – 1kW motor – Kenwood Premier Silver Chef), as my hands are badly affected by arthritis.

You can, of course, do this over two days, refrigerating the onions and rice overnight, but do be sure to bring both up to room temperature before using, and break up the inevitable clumps in both.

This ratio of blood + water and the other ingredients will give a perfect mixture, with no excess liquid.

If doing this all in one day, you can add warm rice and onions to the blood and spice mix, but not hot, as this might cause the blood to congeal.

When you’ve added everything let it sit for a couple of hours, so the rice absorbs liquid. If you’ve stuck to the recipe, the solids will remain in suspension, and won’t settle to the bottom of the bowl.

As always, I weigh both liquids (1ml = 1g), and solids, so that any error in the scales is neutralised (my scales are accurate – I can’t vouch for anyone else’s).

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: For this batch I used the Sainsbury’s loaf tin, as above, and lined it with a paper case, the “ArchDuc” size (mysteriously spelt ArchiDuc), is just right. This is very much the best way. The paper case seems to be silicon coated (though this isn’t mentioned), as when I tried to oil it, the oil beaded and ran off. It also peeled off the finished product with no sticking.

Important:  Once cold, I covered it tightly with clingfilm and put it in the fridge still in its tin, in the meat drawer, overnight. When you remove the paper case, you’ll find a lot of condensation has formed (not sure how, but it does), so be sure to blot up every trace of it from the block of morcilla.

Then you can slice it for freezing – about half an inch thick is good – and I wrap each slice separately, either in a suitably-sized plastic bag or in clingfilm, before over-bagging and freezing.

Here’s a pic of the finished product, with one slice taken off to show the texture.

Click pic to view full size, Back button to return.

Fry it lightly, just to heat it through, before serving.

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. 1spoon = 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, plus 1 for all the washing up you’re left with! Technically, though, it’s very easy. These are actually rice paddles, by the way, much easier to handle than wooden spoons and a more sensible shape for stirring.

Using a food processor to chop the onions makes it easier, but it would be very easy to chop the onions too small. I’m not convinced that food processors save much time or effort, either – 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.

**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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