Blood sausage recipes have been around for centuries, with many of our more modern iterations actually dating back to medieval times. And while the very words “blood” and “sausage” may conjure up unsavory images, you’d be surprised just how flavorful and practical these links can be. All it takes is a few ingredients and an imaginative culinary mind like yours!
Culinary students in the Austin area have a big opportunity to help bring the blood sausage tradition stateside, and, who knows, even carve out their own specialization with this historically beloved dish.
What exactly is blood sausage?
As the name suggests, blood sausage contains animal blood – typically pig’s blood, though duck, goat, cow and sheep are also used around the world – that’s coagulated and then mixed with a dry filler. Chefs usually cook blood sausage over a fire or in an oven.
That being said, there is much variation in how this delicacy is prepared and what ingredients are featured, which predominantly tracks with the region of the world where blood sausage is being consumed.
For instance, Asian cuisine is much more likely to showcase rice, fermented soy, kimchi or greens as filler, whereas European staples typically contain cornmeal, barley, additional meat and onions.
Blood sausage doesn’t always live up to its imagery, however, and as we’ll discuss soon, many cultures prefer stews or other types of dishes rather than the conventional sausage links.
How to use blood sausage in a meal
The variety of blood sausage cooking techniques is vast, and it may be best to try your hand at some of the standard fare first. If you’re satisfied with your creations – and your taste testers are as well – then diving into other arrangements could be a good exercise in expanding your culinary craft.
Let’s start with some of the more common dishes you may encounter:
When discussing blood sausage, black pudding is often the go-to example of how it’s cooked and presented. Black pudding is a staple of English, Irish and, more recently, Canadian cuisine and is known for its high-protein, low-carb makeup.
Here’s a quick example from Epicurious of how you’d prepare a three-pound black pudding:
- Add a teaspoon of salt to four cups of blood in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl, bring two and a half cups of water to boil while stirring in oats for 15 minutes.
- Pour blood bowl through a sieve and into the boiling water.
- Add onion, milk and spices of choice.
- Once mixed, pour the contents into two greased loaf pans and bake for one hour at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Be sure pans are covered with tin foil – once cooked, seal in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one week.
In many Western and Central European nations, blood sausage is best known in its traditional wurst format. Blutwurst, liverwurst, Zungenwurst and charcuterie-type preparations are commonly served with potatoes, salads or cabbage.
Snacks, soups and stuffings
In Spanish cultures, blood sausages come in the form of skillets, stir frys and holiday appetizers that contain many vegetables, herbs and spices.
Asian cuisine tends to favor blood sausage less as a main course and more as either a small snack or part of a soup with noodles. Additionally, some prefer boiled or fried blood sausage served with a dipping sauce.
Some African and European consumers of blood sausage use the food as part of a larger dish, such as stuffing, complete with cilantro, beef stock, bread, garlic, onions, tomatoes and accompanying meat cut from the same animal.
Getting creative with blood sausage
As you can see, you can customize your blood sausage concoctions to any style that suits your taste. Though it’s a bit harder to find blood sausage on the average supermarket shelf or even butcher shop in the U.S., it’s becoming easier, as demographic and cultural influences change.
This versatility and connection to many different types of consumers makes blood sausage a great addition to any restaurant menu.