This blood sausage sort of just happened. It wasn’t long ago when I was flicking through the River Cottage Cookbook I happened to see a blood sausage recipe or three. My first thought was “wow, I haven’t had blood sausage in ages”. My second was “yep, there was a reason for that”.
As with almost everything not all blood sausage is created equal. I remember eating some in motorway (freeway to the Yanks) greasy spoons that should never be served.. especially considering that people are then often locked in their cars with no quick access to a bathroom 30 minutes down the road..
So there the idea sat in my brain for a while. Thinking about how I could make a blood sausage that I would like. One that would be worth risking covering our kitchen in pigs blood, for I heard making blood sausage was a mite messy. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I couldn’t remember what it tasted like. I think the last I had was 18 years ago in England and that one would certainly be a contender for the story above.
Some research yielded interesting results. Some people would add ground pork the mix – making it more like a regular sausage. “blood sausage for pansies” I call that. The other (and majority) or the recipes I have seen call for mixing blood with cream, and adding some soft carbs to act as a binder. In England that would generally be bread or oats. In Spain it is more often than not rice. Diced fat back is also added, along with a variety of spices to obliterate “compliment” the blood taste.
Given I have a gluten intolerant wife, I decided to go the rice route. This happened to be rather fortunate since the recipes I saw for the classic Spanish blood sausage “morcilla” seemed to be the most palatable – with onions, rice, smoked paprika traditionally being used.
Perhaps the strangest turn of events is that my near vegetarian wife, Danika, wanted a piece of the blood sausage makin’, along with my usual partner in charcuterie crime, Becky. It turns out to be pretty handy having 3 people around to make blood sausage, especially if you want a few photos along the way (thank Danika for the in progress shots!).
I should mention how bloody hard (badum pum.. that one was for the cheap seats folks) it is to find pigs blood. Thankfully I live in Seattle. Given the amount of earthy food loving hippies that like to use every part of an animal (I am one of those), within 20 minutes of Facebooking that I was looking for pigs blood I got a ton of responses giving phone numbers and contact details of people that might be able to help. In the end a phone call to my butcher of choice Russ, over at Rainshadow meats just happened to have some in the freezer. I got numbers of people keeping pigs that might go to slaughter soon. I got the number for the mobile slaughter unit that visits local farms here (so animals from small farms can be slaughtered properly, to USDA guidelines with little stress to the animal).
Back to the recipe. This is based off a morcilla recipe in the River Cottage cookbook. I have made a few adjustments however, just for our own personal tastes. The sausage has blood, cream, onions, pork back fat, rice, raisins, sherry and paprika in it. I chose to caramelize the onions for 3 hours in a big old bath of olive oil, to get some great rich onion flavor in there, and a bit of sweetness. The sherry was a grand idea too (not mine, twas in the recipe) – a medium sherry was used and gave a good bite to the sausage.
I really implore anyone to give this a go. It is super easy, kinda fun and the results will surprise you. I would say that I considered 80% of the blood sausage I have ever had to be inedible, but this one I really enjoyed. It is richer than the bastard child of Donald Trump and Bill Gates (haven’t quite worked out the biology of that one) – one or two slices is enough for me, but is very enjoyable none the less.
Here is a quick serving suggestion – serve this cold, sliced reasonably thickly. Drizzle a little olive oil and decent sherry vinegar over. Some salt, finely diced parsley and things are looking pretty good. The vinegar helps cut the richness, the extra salt gives a little zing.
Blood Sausage Recipe (Spanish Morcilla recipe)
NOTE: A sausage stuffer isn’t used to stuff this sausage, since the mixture is very loose before cooking. Instead, buy a large soda bottle, empty it and cut the base off it. You can now tie the sausage casing on to the neck of the bottle, and ladle in your blood sausage mixture. Use a chopstick to help push the chunks of fat and raisins through the neck if needed.
20fl oz pigs blood – fresh or frozen
5 fl oz heavy cream
10 oz finely diced onions
10 oz pork back fat – finely diced (1/8th inch dice)
1/2 cup cooked bomba rice
scant 1 cup of raisins
1 tbs salt (for sausage)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 wine glass of medium-dry sherry
1 tablespoon bittersweet smoked Spanish paprika
hogs casings – 6ft of them – soaked overnight in cold water
large plastic soda bottle, empty, clean, with the base cut off.
put the diced onions and 1/2 cup of olive oil in a large pan. And a pinch of salt and cook gently over a low flame for 3 hours – stirring every 30 minutes. The onions should be deeply caramelized. This can be done a few days ahead of time if required – store the onions in their oil in the fridge.
If the blood is frozen, allow to defrost in the fridge overnight.
Soak the raisins in hot water for 20 minutes to soften. Drain water.
Put the blood in a blender. Blend it. Pretend it is huckleberry juice or something, if that helps. Strain the blood in to a bowl. This will help remove any clots.
Drain the cooked onions, reserving the oil for salad dressings and so on.
Add all of the other ingredients to the bowl of blood (not the casings). Mix very well.
Rinse the casings out thoroughly with water. Tie one end of the casing tightly with string, leaving a long tail of string. Cut the casing in to a 14″ length. Stretch the open end over the neck of the plastic bottle. Tie this in place with some string.
Whilst constantly mixing the blood mixture (making sure all the good stuff doesn’t sink to the bottom) ladle the mix in to the plastic bottle. Use a chopstick to gently tease the lumps of fat and raisins through the neck of the bottle and in to the sausage.
Cut the sausage casing off the bottle, and tie off the other end of the casing with the tail of string left from the other end – you are essentially forming a loop.
Bring a large pot of water to about 170F. Gently lower the blood sausage in to the hot water. Poach the sausage for about 30 minutes. Prick the casing in a few spots if you see any air bubbles under the casing. It is a good idea to prick the casing in a few spots after 10 minutes of cooking – just to help let some of the pressure out.
After 30 minutes, prick the sausage again. If the blood that comes out is brown, not red the sausage is cooked.
Cool immediately in ice water, then store tightly wrapped in the fridge until needed.