You may remember a while back when we wrote this post about traditional Irish food. Since then, Taste Archives Co-Founder, Brittany, went off and lived in Dublin, Ireland for 3 whole months. For those of you keeping track, 3 months = 12 weeks = 90 days to try every traditional Irish food there ever was. Foodie bliss.
Now, we could write a post about every traditional Irish dish in the book, but today we’re going to focus on arguably the most controversial- Black and White Pudding.
Yum! You mean like chocolate and vanilla pudding?
Nope. That is a reasonable assumption for any reasonable person to make, but this is an Irish invention. Irish people are all a little bit nutty. The friendliest bunch you’ll ever meet, mind you, but all that Guinness consumption has to manifest itself somehow.
Nope, when they say pudding they actually mean sausage. Why? Even after 3 months of living on the Emerald Isle that is still a mystery to us. So what goes into this sausage? The following is a list of the main ingredients:
- Pork meat (often from the cheek, tongue, and other lesser-used parts)
- Pork fat
- Suet or lard
- Bread, oatmeal
- Cooked barley
That is the list of ingredients typically found in both white and black pudding. What separates the two (and this is where things get a little controversial) is the inclusion or exclusion of pig’s blood.
That’s right- actual pig’s blood. Black pudding gets its dark hue from blood, while white pudding usually contains minced liver in lieu of the red stuff.
Who the heck thought of that?!
Ireland has a proud agricultural history, and back in the day (an incredibly precise time in history) women living in small farmhouses all across the country created black pudding using the byproducts of a pig raised on their own land. The pudding was often made to sell at local markets, but was also used to feed their own families as part of the traditional Irish breakfast, which also included rasher (aka bacon) and sausages. Irish food is nothing if not hearty. Those resourceful housewives of Ireland’s past had no idea that their clever creation would one day be raised to such great culinary heights.
But…does it actually taste good?
As we mentioned, this traditional Irish dish can be quite polarizing. This is especially true for black pudding. Usually this has nothing to do with the actual taste, but more so because some people can’t get past the idea that they’re consuming pig’s blood. We’d like to point out, however, that often those same people don’t have a problem eating red meat, which gets its colour from cow’s blood, but that is another argument for another day.
If you can get past the ingredient list, we both highly recommend you try it. No trip to Ireland would be complete without it, and honestly it is delicious. It is some of the most tender sausage you will ever eat, and the barley and oats impart a pleasant nutty flavour that you wouldn’t expect from pork sausage.
As with anything, you can find good black and white pudding and not-so-good black and white pudding. The quality of the product will of course affect your experience, so we recommend you seek out a high-quality butcher at one of the country’s many farmer’s markets to ensure you get the best possible product. Ireland is special because much of it’s agriculture is done on smaller, family-owned farms, unlike the monstrous industrial farms that are predominant in Canada and the United States. This leads to a much higher quality product, which is better for the environment, better for the animals and ultimately better for your health and your taste buds! Way to go Ireland- don’t ever change.
Irish Farming Adventures
I (Brittany) had the unique opportunity to visit a farm in Ireland and be the farmer’s right-hand woman for a day. I spent the day herding sheep (yes, literally running around in a field chasing the fluffy white animals) and traipsing through Ireland’s stunning green pastures. I also had the chance to meet the farmer’s butcher who showed me some of the techniques and methods of preparation that were taught to him by his own father. Butchery is another highly valued “inherited career” in Ireland, with time-honoured knowledge and skills being passed down generation to generation. At the end of this highly educational, muddy and exciting day, is when I had my first taste of black and white pudding from product that had been prepared only one day prior! Essentially, it was the freshest possible pudding you could hope to try.
An Irish Must-Try
Basically, if you visit Ireland and don’t try black and white pudding you’re doing it wrong. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try this beloved traditional Irish staple- it’s one of the best ways to discover Ireland’s rich agricultural history and get a taste of what high-quality farming can produce.