Black pudding is serious business here in Ireland and as a result we have some of the finest blood pudding in the world. A traditional addition to the famous Full Irish Breakfast, black pudding has been made in Ireland for hundreds of years. It was traditionally made in small farmhouses in rural Ireland as part of the process of slaughtering a pig. Meat from the animal would be divided out and cured or eaten fresh while the blood would be collected and saved to make black pudding.
Neighbors were often involved in the work and in return for helping out, they would get a share of the fresh and cured meat and puddings. This was an important part of the process as it meant fresh meat would be available more regularly. Often to subsidise the modest farmhouse income black pudding would be sold to village shops along with eggs, butter and milk. Nowadays quality Irish black pudding is readily available and butchers like McCarthy’s of Kanturk and Kelly’s of Newport make some of the best you can buy.
Despite eating copious amounts of the black stuff, I have never made it. It’s a tricky process (gruesome for some!) involving fresh blood and intestines, so as you can imagine, not the type of ingredients most of us have in our kitchens. I got the opportunity to make some with Mary, the Bean An Tí from Muckross Traditional Farms when we filmed for this week’s episode of Rediscovering The Irish Kitchen. She gave me a first hand demonstration, which turned out to be a lot easier than I imagined. The blood is mixed with oats, onion, salt and spices and then loosely stuffed into the intestines, tied in rings and then boiled in a large pot of water. A brilliant Irish ingredient that can be used in so many different ways.
Another highlight of filming was a trip to Kylemore Abbey to cook with the Benedictine nuns. The Benedictine order has resided at the abbey since 1919 and in that time for many years it was run as a boarding school with many of the nuns teaching there. It is now one of Ireland’s most popular tourist destinations with its rich history and dramatic setting in the heart of the Connemara, Co. Galway.
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