Home-made morcilla, Mark 2 – Addendum…

As you probably gathered from the recipe page – which worked out perfectly, by the way – you’re going to be left with quite a bit of washing up, much of it blood-covered.

The first batch I made, in which I forgot the paprika and wound up with just black pudding (in which role it works very well), I immediately put all the bloody bowls and equipment to soak in hot water. That was a mistake – it set like cement.

This time I put everything to soak in cold water, and it came clean in no time. Then I washed it in hot soapy water, to finish, and rinsed off the suds (where food’s concerned you can’t be too clean).

A note about the method. I suggested greasing the loaf tin, or tins – don’t!

No matter what you do, it’ll stick even to non-stick containers, and grease seems to weld it tightly to the surface, making cleaning the tins all but impossible (it took days of scrubbing and soaking). If you don’t grease the tins, it’ll still stick, but it will wash off easily after a cold soak.

I don’t know what the answer is to the sticking problem, other than using artificial black pudding casings, though it’s possible that paper loaf tin liners might be easier to peel off. Worth a try.

There was quite a lot stuck to the loaf tin I used, certainly too much to waste, so I scraped off almost all of it with a flexible spatula, bagged it and froze it. In a few days time it’ll be used as a flavour component in a sausage and bean dish. I have a batch of cider-flavoured pork sausages which don’t really work – the cider dominates way too much – but in a paprika-flavoured casserole they work brilliantly, the fruitiness offsetting the spiciness nicely (and I think I’ll use some of the large, Spanish, butter beans, too).

And to whet your appetite (or revolt you, depending on whether you really think meat grows in little plastic containers, or accept that its production is necessarily bloody), here’s a few pics.

This is the completed mix – rice, onions, salt and pepper, paprika, and, of course, the reconstituted blood, all thoroughly mixed (I recommend getting your hands – or a hand – in it, with a disposable glove; it’s the best way to be sure no unmixed rice has clumped together).

At this stage I let it stand for half an hour, to see if the solids sink. If they do, the ratio of blood to solids is too high – if the mix is perfect it will be loose but not liquid, the solids will stay in suspension, and there will be no free liquid sloshing around. And, indeed, there wasn’t. If you stick to my recipe, you can safely omit this step.

This is the finished morcilla, straight from the oven – allow to cool uncovered and, when stone cold, cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight – it’s easier to slice when chilled. Next day, remove the clingfilm and blot the top with kitchen towel as it will have become damp, even wet, as some residual heat will remain deep inside even when it feels cold to the touch, causing condensation when it’s covered. (As you can see, I didn’t fill it, but as the mix doesn’t rise when cooking, there’s no reason not to, in future batches.)

Gently turn it upside down onto a polyethylene chopping board (wood will be badly stained), and cut into slices about half an inch thick (or a centimetre if you want it a little thinner). The top, having developed a crust, will resist the knife just a little – the reason for slicing it upside-down – so be sure to cut right through to the board (this isn’t apparent when eating it, by the way).

And finally, this is the finished product, sliced and ready for the freezer. As you can see, the rice and onions remained evenly distributed. How you pack it depends on how you’re likely to use it, but keep each slice separate as you won’t be able to part them once frozen. I used Lakeland No. 1 Freezeasy bags – just big enough for one slice, over-bagged, the air sucked out, and frozen.

Enjoy – I did! Fry it in a dry, non-stick pan, or with the tiniest smear of oil – there’s enough lard in it (even though much of it was reclaimed), it doesn’t need more. The taste is a little stronger than the first batch, the addition 50% of dried blood doing its job, and the spicing is light but there, complementing the taste, not swamping it.

I’ve been asked “Does in smell like burning blood when frying?” To which the answer is no, why should it? You’re not burning it, any more than you’d burn a steak, or sausages, and for me, meat smells bloodier. It smells meaty, that’s all.

Frankly, I’m impressed with the result, considering all I had to work with, when devising this recipe, was a very short TV sequence showing the mix being prepared (with fresh blood, available in supermarkets in Spain), and an online glimpse of a Morcilla de Burgos label which confirmed what I’d seen, that it contained fried onion, not back fat.

Since I made the first batch, I’ve bought and eaten morcilla, imported from Spain, and I can say, without any doubt or false modesty, this is better.

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