The foie gras of the poor: Black pudding adds instant richness to the simplest meal. Photo: James Brickwood
What is it?
A rich, dark sausage made of pig's blood, pork fat, onion, oatmeal and spices, popular in Britain, with equally rich, dark variations in France (boudin noir), Spain (morcilla) and many other countries around the world. Love it or hate it, you'll get used to seeing it on menus as part of the whole nose-to-tail, use-the-whole-beast thing.
Where is it?
At Arras, Yorkshire-born chef Adam Humphrey is renowned for his Rack On Black, an homage to the black pudding of his childhood that involves enveloping a saddle of spring lamb in a black pudding mousse and serving it with buttered leeks and date puree. "All of a sudden offal has become cool" he says. "But I've always liked it because it was cheap." His tip on how to serve it at home? "Go back to the traditional ways - people have been cooking this stuff for hundreds of years."
It's back to black over at Bronte's Three Blue Ducks, where the big breakfast order is scrambled eggs with black sausage, served with a dill cucumber yoghurt salad and red currant jam. They even offer it as an extra side dish in its own right. "I love the mentality behind it, and how it was created from things that would otherwise be discarded," Mark LaBrooy says.
The new ''faster and friendlier'' menu at Manly's small bar Miss Marley's features garlicky, lemony prawns served with crumbled morcilla or butifarra negra (the Catalan answer to Spain's morcilla) and sweetcorn puree. "I think the idea of cooked blood is hard for some people to take" says chef Carlos Libardi de Almeida, "but when they taste it, they like it very much."
At Carlton North's Small Victories, chef Alric Hansen makes his own boudin noir, using fresh pig's blood, onion, apple, Calvados and spices, to serve as part of a mixed grill alongside eggs, bacon, beans, two pork sausages, a croquette and sourdough toast. "Ninety per cent of people who come here love it," he says. "Older people remember it from childhood, but even little kids will eat it."
At Fitzroy's newly renovated Anada, chef Jesse Garner makes his own morcilla with pig's blood, pork fat, rice, onion and allspice, serving it as a tapa dish, simply pan-fried and topped with a fried quail egg, crisp onion and crispbread. "There has been a real move towards this sort of cooking," he says. "People are ready for it now."
Chef Ian Curley became famous for his black pudding terrine at his former restaurant Rhubarb's and is still a devoted fan of anything black. The breakfast menu at European in Spring Street not only carries huevos madrilenos (baked eggs with black pudding and chorizo) but also offers black pudding and apple as a side order for eggs and toast. "I'm from Coventry, England, and grew up on black pudding," Curley says. "You use everything, and you never throw anything out."
Why do I care?
Because it's the foie gras of the poor, an ingenious, age-old, nose-to-tail use of the whole beast that adds instant richness to the simplest meal, from a fry-up to a seared scallop.
Can I do it at home?
You can make your own if you have a litre of fresh pig's blood handy, or buy a good brand at food halls and good butchers, and just slice, fry and serve.
Arras, 204 Clarence Street, Sydney 9283 1922
Miss Marley's, 32 Belgrave St, Manly 8065 4805
Three Blue Ducks, 114 Macpherson Street, Bronte 9389 0010
Anada, 197 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, 9415 6101.
Small Victories, 617 Rathdowne Street, Carlton North, 937 4064.
European, 161 Spring Street, city, 9654 0811.
Scrambled eggs with black pudding crumbs
Crumbling the black pudding makes it easier for the non-converted; otherwise just slice and fry.
200g black pudding, skinned
3 tbsp milk
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tbsp butter
Hot buttered toast for serving
1 tbsp dill, finely chopped
Handful of watercress or rocket
1. Finely chop the black pudding and cook in a dry nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Mash it into crumbs with a fork as it softens and then fry until it just starts to crisp (1 to 2 minutes). Set aside and keep warm.
2. Whisk the eggs with milk, sea salt and pepper. Heat the butter in a nonstick pan, add the eggs, and cook over medium heat. Don't stir, just slowly push the eggs around the pan in a broad sweep with a wooden paddle until just cooked, soft and curdy (1 to 2 minutes). Pile the eggs onto hot buttered toast. Toss the black pudding with dill and scatter on top. Serve with cress or rocket.
TRENDING Bacon ice-cream. For breakfast. Spotted at Surry Hills' Cowbell 808, where ricotta hotcakes are topped with bacon ice-cream, mascarpone and espresso syrup. Also spotted at St Ali North, Carlton North, where maple-poached pears come with toasted brioche, chocolate cookie crumbs and smoked bacon ice-cream. If that's breakfast, what's for lunch?