James has written for various magazines, including Celtic Guide, Mythology Magazine, and Pagan Forest.
Is It or Isn’t It?
Good news, everyone! Black pudding is a superfood! Kind of. Almost. Maybe. Okay, it’s not so much an official superfood, but it’s got some good things going on. Why is this important? It’s not! Except that I just really love researching old-timey foods and trying them, and in the process, I learned I love this food. So let’s talk about it and why it’s good and why maybe it’s not!
(Note: this particular article, as it’s not being published in an actual magazine or journal or whatnot, was written entirely under the influence of stout. I’ll happily do the second edit if anyone wants it for anything official, until then, it should work—hopefully.)
Let’s be upfront. Another term for black pudding is blood sausage. It’s mostly pig blood (usually, but can be any animal), oatmeal, some onion, and flavoring. I get why people think it’s gross from the name, but like everything else in the world, once it’s fried, it’s really good!
So why do I love old nasty foods like this? I have no idea! Other than it’s one of the few truly spiritual aspects of my life. Researching and re-enacting things that my ancestors would have eaten or physically done gives me a connection to the past that I like to have as a counter-balance to the practicality and enjoyment of using the scientific method as a tool for the future. To paraphrase Arthur Herman in his excellent book How the Scots Invented the Modern World, I very much like the philosophy of looking to the future while having my feet firmly rooted in the past.
Good, if Not Super
Besides blood pudding, I’ve also worked out a wonderful recipe for beef heart and have tried many other foods that many consider nasty (eel pie, stargazy pie, and banana sandwiches for example). Really, though, if prepared well, they can be quite tasty!
Imagine my joy, then, as I perused an article on Irish Central’s website back in early January 2016 that hailed Irish black pudding as a superfood. Back on January 6th, the article came out and I was ecstatic to learn that one of my favorite “odd” foods was going to help keep me immortal. According to the article, it has great protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc, as well as being low in carbs for those on the paleo/Atkins/etc. diets.
Naturally, Irish butchers were overjoyed to hear such news, as were butchers from many cultures. After all, black pudding has similar nutritional traits regardless of where it is made. I get mine from a local German butcher and it’s the same recipe (I’ve asked) in my Irish and British cookbooks.
But hold the presses! Just a couple of weeks later, Irish Central came out with another article that, sadly, took away some of the superfood attributes. It turns out that the food was considered super through the Muscle Foods website and was added due to customer search numbers. So while the above nutritional values still hold, that doesn’t mean it’s all that super, especially when you consider the health detriments red and processed meats can have, in addition to the calories that frying adds.
So what is one to do? Honestly, I hate the term “all in moderation,” but I must admit that here it has its place. You’ll be fine enjoying some black pudding if you keep it calm and do not over-indulge with any of them. I enjoy my full fry-up (see below) on occasion, but try to limit it (I don’t always succeed). One can always use less of the black pudding, as well, by incorporating it into other foods so not as much is used, allowing for some of the good and not as much of the bad.
So please allow me to share with you two of the recipes I use black puddings for, as well as how I fry the black pudding up. The first is the “full American fry-up,” my United States take on the full English or full Irish breakfast. The second is an adjustment to the black pudding and goat cheese pizza given in the Irish Central superfood article.
For a great idea of what the full fry-up is, check out Anglotopia’s video that I’ve inserted just above. Hopefully, they are okay with my use of their video, as I don’t make money here and it gives them a wee bit more profile. (Hint hint hint, Anglotopia.) Since some of the ingredients are hard to find in the states, though, I’ve improvised. I know black pudding isn’t the easiest for all to find, but I do not have a good substitute for it; honestly, I’m not sure I would try, but would rather just leave it out.
Rashers and British bacon are not the easiest for me to find, so I typically use American bacon (thin or thick sliced depending on my mood) and use . . . Spam! Speaking of foods some people may think sound gross, it’s really not! I usually use the hot and spicy kind, but the regular also is excellent and the low fat is decent. Also, instead of the more tomato-based baked beans from the Isles, I use American baked beans with a more BBQ sauce style. I’ve had the British and I like it, but having grown up in the USA, I can’t help that my tastes run more to the American bean style.
I just heat up a slight bit of oil in a pan and then fry the bacon first (I think it stays the best out of all the other items, after having sat a bit). Then I fry the black pudding (video below!) and Spam together, along with mushrooms (they are great fried up in the oil!) with sauce (sometimes Worcestershire and sometimes A1—regular or something spicy), and then finish up with a couple of eggs (nothing fries an egg like bacon grease!). While the eggs fry up, I toast some bread or an English muffin and add butter and maybe jam/jelly. (I also use salt and pepper to season the Spam, black pudding, and eggs, as well as the mushrooms plus garlic salt.)
Recipe: Full American Fry-Up
- Oil (I use canola oil)
- Bacon (American)
- Black Pudding
- Spam (I prefer the spicy version)
- Worcestershire sauce
- Eggs (I generally make two)
- Bread of choice with toppings of choice
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic salt (if you want)
- Heat oil on middle/moderate setting
- Fry bacon to desired crispness
- Fry the black pudding, Spam (seasoned with salt and pepper), and mushrooms (seasoned Worcestershire sauce and garlic salt) together
- Fry eggs, seasoning with salt and pepper
- While the eggs are frying, toast your bread
Pretty simple, eh! (Note: I’ve seen videos and images of huge thick black puddings—all I’ve worked with are the smaller in radii—I’m guessing the method is similar, but have no proof.)
I have adjusted the black pudding and goat cheese pizza recipe as given in the Irish Central article (with the original recipe website given below in “further reading” from Bord Bia, the Irish Food Board site). I use an olive oil sauce base, as the red sauce takes away from the wonderfully full black pudding taste, and also add a bit of pineapple, as its sweetness has a nice clash with the meatiness of the black pudding and the richness of the goat cheese.
Recipe: Black Pudding and Goat Cheese Pizza
- 1 large garlic clove (be careful to watch the number of teaspoons if you use minced)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red peppers
- ¼ teaspoon salt (sea or Kosher)
- Pre-made pizza crust (or make your own)
- 2 or 3 small Roma tomatoes
- 4 to 5 slices fried Spam (the original recipe calls for bacon, but I prefer bacon all by itself)
- 5 to 6 slices fried black pudding
- 2 to 4 ounces pineapple
- 4 tablespoons goat cheese
- For olive oil base: mix garlic, olive oil, Italian seasoning, crushed red peppers, and salt together.
- Spread olive oil base on the pizza crust.
- Spread cut/crumbled tomatoes, Spam, black pudding, pineapple, and goat cheese over the pizza.
- Add additional Italian seasoning or crushed red peppers if you like.
- Cook as told on pizza crust instructions.
Further Reading and References
How the Scots Invented the Modern World—Arthur Herman (2001)
- Bacon, Black Pudding and Goats Cheese Pizza
- Terrible news for Irish breakfast fans: black pudding isn’t a superfood after all | IrishCentral.com
Unfortunately, there’s no scientific proof this pudding is good for you.
- Irish black pudding is the latest superfood craze | IrishCentral.com
Maybe a full Irish breakfast and black pudding, in particular, is healthier than we thought!
© 2016 James Slaven