Black pudding is one of the most divisive ingredients out there. Those suspicious of its blood content, studs of fat and strong flavour won’t touch it with a bargepole. However, others love a few tasty slices of it on their breakfast. We can sympathise with both sides of the debate.
Black pudding became a talking point in early 2016 after the website Muscle Foods claimed it ranks alongside kale, broccoli and spinach as a ‘superfood’. This slightly woolly term refers to an ingredient that’s rich in antioxidants, although there’s no consensus or official definition from the health world (the NHS gives its take on it here). Without scientific evidence to back up Muscle Foods’ claim, we’re taking it with a proverbial pinch of salt.
However, we think it’s worth reconsidering black pudding as an ingredient, especially if you’ve not tried it before. Read on to learn the facts about black pudding, how to serve it and whether it indeed has nutritional kudos.
What is black pudding?
Black pudding is made from animal blood. If that makes you squeamish, it’s worth remembering that lots of processed meat is made from unorthodox parts of animals, although the dark colour of black pudding can make it particularly off-putting. It was first made as a way to use up a plentiful by-product, making it an economical and ethical choice in that respect.
To make it, the blood (usually from pigs) is mixed with fat and oatmeal, before being packed into casing. The sausage is then served boiled, fried or grilled and cut into rounds, or crumbled into small pieces. As well as traditional British black pudding, similar blood sausages are served across the world – French ‘boudin noir’ and Spanish ‘morcilla’ being two well-known examples. Added seasonings and spices vary from producer to producer.
If you really can’t get over the blood, you can find vegetarian or vegan black pudding packed with plenty of oats or barley if you look hard enough. White pudding is very similar to black pudding, but doesn’t contain blood, hence the pallid colour. White pudding from Ireland or Scotland is particularly delicious.
Is black pudding good for you?
While black pudding has some positive nutritional traits, it’s not something we should be eating in abundance. Over to dietitian, Emer Delaney…
‘Black pudding does have some benefits. It’s a source of protein, which can keep you feeling fuller for longer. It can also be rich in iron as it contains blood. Nutrient contribution will vary depending on the manufacturer, so iron levels are not always guaranteed to be high.
‘On the flip side, it’s rather high in calories with 297 kcal and 22g fat (of which 8.5g is saturated) per 100g. It also contains 2-3g of salt per 100g, which significantly contributes to the recommendations of less than 6g a day. An average portion of black pudding is approximately 75g. In essence, I would say black pudding is fine to have occasionally. Baking rather than frying it would be the healthier option.
‘We all need to be a little careful of the word ‘superfood’ as it’s quite a dubious term – it doesn’t actually mean foods are healthy. Using it in line with fruit and vegetables will heighten awareness, so that’s beneficial. However, I would be careful using it in conjunction with black pudding.’
What to do with black pudding
Serve it in mash
If you’re not keen on tucking into thick slices of black pudding, stir a small amount of crumbled black pudding through mashed potato. This indulgent Tom Kerridge recipe can be adapted if you don’t feel like using quite so much black pudding.
Use it as seasoning
Proving that black pudding is a super cheffy ingredient, this James Martin recipe demonstrates how to put a small amount of it to effective use. His silky celeriac soup is topped with scallops and black pudding. Not a traditional combination, but the flavours work together like a dream.
In potato cakes
Black pudding and spuds is a winning match, and these delicious patties are served with a tangy chutney. Top them with a fried egg for brunchtime perfection.
Like other kinds of sausage, black pudding can be removed from its casing and shaped as you see fit. This meaty recipe shows you how to use it in the centre of a pork fillet parcel. The dinner party-friendly dish is served with rhubarb to complement the richness.
This hearty casserole is a take on Lancashire hotpot. The black pudding is combined with lamb, wholegrain mustard and a tasty gravy, topped off with sliced potatoes. Food doesn’t get much heartier than this.
In place of sausages
This wintery recipe uses thick slices of black pudding instead of sausages in a warm salad of apples, red cabbage, hazelnuts and a tangy cider vinegar and honey dressing.
For some, the prime use for black pudding is in a fry-up. This one-pan breakfast is (slightly) lighter than the usual full English, replacing sausages with asparagus. If the spears aren’t in season, you could replace them with mushrooms or tomatoes to freshen up the traditional combination of eggs, bacon and black pudding.
What’s your take on black pudding? Love it or loathe it, we want to know what side of the fence you sit on…