Black Puddings

I’m not sure how this all links to the Royal Jubilee or this time of year – but I’ve heard that black pudding is one of the Queen’s favourites, and who can blame her !

Black pudding in the United Kingdom is generally made from pork blood and a relatively high proportion of oatmeal; in the past it was occasionally flavoured with pennyroyal mint, differing from continental European versions in its relatively limited range of ingredients and reliance on oatmeal and barley instead of onions to absorb the blood. It can be eaten uncooked, but is often grilled, fried or boiled in its skin.

In the United Kingdom, black pudding is considered a delicacy in the Black Country and the North West, especially in Lancashire, in particular the towns of Bury and Ramsbottom home of The World Black Pudding Throwing Championships, where it is sometimes boiled and served with malt vinegar out of paper wrapping.

Follow that van …..

Black puddings are also served sliced and fried or grilled as part of a traditional full breakfast throughout the UK; it is also served this way in Ireland, New Zealand, and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador. The further addition of the similar white pudding is an important feature of the traditional Northumbrian, Scottish, Irish and Newfoundland breakfast. British towns noted for their black pudding include Bury, Dudley and Ramsbottom.

Just click here for a splendid webiste devoted to black puddings. For a bit of black pudding history try here.

Spanish morcilla has many variants. The most well-known and widespread is morcilla de Burgos which contains mainly pork blood and fat, rice, onions, and salt. In Albacete and La Mancha, the morcilla is filled with onions instead of rice, which completely changes the texture.

My all time favourite

In Extremadura the creamy morcilla patatera includes roughly mashed potatoes. In the northern regions and the Canary Islands there is a sweet variety known as morcilla dulce. Other varieties introduce breadcrumbs, pine nuts, almonds and vary the proportions of the other ingredients or flavourings, some of them considered delicacies.

I’m not sure how many of you might be wanting to have a go at making your own black puddings but if you are try here or here for some ideas.

…. and for the very adventurous here’s someone else having a go …. a bit of theory first then on to the action …

Charlie the butcher


British Pie Awards 2012

The British Pie Awards 2012

A pub pie created by Dunkleys, of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, has been crowned the Supreme Champion at the British Pie Awards held in Melton Mowbray on Wednesday 25th April.

The winning pie was among a record number of 900 pies created by professional bakers and butchers at this year’s event organised and hosted by the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association and held in St Mary’s Church.

The pies, submitted in 18 classes, underwent a stringent judging process by 93 food experts and celebrity chefs led by Andrew Chisholm. The panel, which included top food critic Charles Campion and food writer Xanthe Clay, TV chefs Rachel Green and Phil Vickery, scored the pies on a range of criteria including appearance and texture and taste of pastry and filling.


Dunkleys’ winning pub pie contains chicken, ham, mushroom and buttered leeks encased in a suet pastry. Producer of the winning pie Mark Beeston, who is Dunkleys’ pie ambassador, received a trophy and a £1,000 prize.

He said: “We’re absolutely thrilled that our pub pie has been crowned the Supreme Champion at these highly prestigious and creditable awards.

“We don’t compromise on the quality of the pies which we have been making with care and passion for 60 years and to win against so many excellent bakers is an absolute joy!”

Matthew O’Callaghan, Chairman of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie Association, added: “Pies are one of our nation’s favourite traditional foods and we organise this event to celebrate the quality and heritage of these iconic products.

The traditional Pork Pie - always my favourite though I am a bit partial to a nice Gala Pie.

“This year’s event was a resounding success and yet again we were impressed with the high quality of the pies entered by passionate pie-makers. Our judges, who faced the difficult task of choosing the winning pie out of 900 entries, did a superb job.

“It’s fantastic to see that the value of these awards is recognised not only by large pie-makers but also by small producers who submitted over 70 per cent of entries.”

The full list of category winners were:

  • Melton Mowbray Pork Pie (cold) – Walker & Son
  • Pork Pie (cold) – Walker & Son
  • Steak and Kidney Pie (hot) – Pieminister
  • Beef and any flavour combination (hot) – Rose Cottages Pies
  • Beef and Ale Pie (hot) – Brocklebys
  • Lamb Pie (hot) – Robert Bowring Farmer & Butchers
  • Chicken and any flavour (hot) – Pieminister
  • Other Meat Pie (hot) – Morecambe FC
  • Savoury Pie (cold) – Stuart Smith & Sons Butchers
  • Fish Pie (hot) – Great Walshingham Barns Cafe
  • Vegetarian Pie (hot) – Morecambe FC
  • Cornish Pasty (cold) – Chough Bakery
  • Other Pasty (cold) – Chough Bakery
  • Dessert Pie (cold) – Kensey Foods
  • Pub Pie (hot) – Dunkleys
  • Football Pie (hot) – Morecambe FC
  • Celebration Pie (hot/cold) – Dunkleys
  • Bramley Apple Pie (cold) – Kensey Foods
  • Supreme Champion 2012 – Dunkleys
  • Small Producer Award – Morecambe FC

It is good to see the Shrimpers coming out on top again.

Winner (again) of the Football Pie - Morecambe FC - back o' the net

Charlie the butcher

Chick Bits – Sri Lanka

Sorry about the recent lack of posts but I’ve been away in Sri Lanka taking in a bit of cricket.  The trip was terrific apart from the result in Galle.

I had a bit of my usual hunt around for meat related things but as you probably know, like South India, much of the food is vegetarian with an additional abundance of Indian Ocean seafood. I did find these Chick Bits …. I’m not sure which chick or which of its bits have been used.


We were also woken most mornings by what sounded like an ice cream van … but it turned out to be one of these patio-based tuk tuks selling the most amazing fresh bread and various treats.



Charlie the Butcher

National Butchers’ Week 2012

It’s that time of year when everyone should be celebrating butchers’ creativity and passion.


National Butchers’ Week was set up five years ago by leading business-to-business magazine Meat Trades Journal to promote the craft skills, knowledge and profile of retail butchers across the UK by leading a week of special focus and activities.


By headlining the week under the banner ‘Ask the Expert‘, and encouraging consumers to visit the  ‘Find a Butcher‘ website to locate their nearest first rate independent butcher, Meat Trades Journal uses the week to highlight the true expertise of the trained artisan butcher – many of whom have been at the heartland of their communities for decades.


From showcasing butchery as a craft-based, fast-paced retail career, to providing recipe lesson plans for schools to teach primary aged children all about the nutrition of meat using the fun of sausage and burger making, National Butchers’ Week seeks to engage with all ages.

Butchers all over the country will be running special events, activities and promotions to highlight the value for money that the shopper can find on their local high street as well as offering – as they do every day – their specialist knowledge and free advice on any aspect of meat cuts, the use of meat in recipes and cooking instructions

You can also gain special access to many of the butchers’ own special recipes .

Charlie the Butcher

Meat Vs Meat, Real Vs Unreal ?

The news has brought two meaty stories that seem to coming from different perspectives … you be the judge.

In one story from this week it is reported that the world’s first hamburger made with a synthetic meat protein derived from bovine stem cells will be publicly consumed this October after being prepared by a celebrity chef, according to the inventor of the artificial mince.

Mmmmm .... looking good

Heston Blumenthal is the favourite to be asked to cook the £207,000 hamburger, which will be made from 3,000 strips of synthetic meat protein grown in fermentation vats. Dr Mark Post, of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, said the anonymous backer of his research project had not yet decided who would get to eat the world’s most expensive hamburger, which will unveiled at a ceremony in Maastricht.

Dr Post told the American Association for the Advancement of Science that a hamburger made from artificial beef protein was a milestone in the development of novel ways to meet the global demand for meat, which is expected to double by 2050.

“In October we’re going to provide a ‘proof of concept’ showing that with in vitro culture methods that are pretty classical we can make a product out of stem cells that looks like, and hopefully taste like, meat,” Dr Post said.

“The target goal is to make a hamburger and for that we need to grow 3,000 pieces of this muscle and a couple of hundred pieces of fat tissue. As long as it’s a patty the size of a regular hamburger, I’m happy with it,” he said.

A handful of researchers has been working for the past six years on the technical problem of extracting stem cells from bovine muscle, culturing them in the laboratory and turning them into strips of muscle fibres that can be minced together with synthetic fat cells into an edible product.

The technical challenges have included giving the meat a pinkish colour and the right texture for cooking and eating, as well as ensuring that it feels and tastes like real meat.

Dr Post admitted to being nervous about the final result. “I am a little worried, but seeing and tasting is believing,” he said.

At the same time, in another story, a prize bull called Fabio has set a world record at auction. The pedigree Limousin was expected to fetch £40,000 at the cattle market in Carlisle, Cumbria but went for £126,000 beating the previuos record by £21,000.


Glyn Vaughan who bred Fabio at his farm in Machynlleth, Powys, said “When it hit £80,000, I hoped it woud reach £100,00. I’m not sure I remember what happened after that. It was unreal.”

The winning bid by Alan Jenkinson of Penrith, set a world record for a Limousin and a British record for a Bull.

Agricultural experts say the new owner will quickly recoup the money for the 17 month old bull through breeding. Mr Vaughan said “He’s a big fellow but very docile.  I’m sorry to see him go, but delighted he made so much money.”

Charlie the butcher

Pork Scratchings – scratching a living

Recently, there seems to be a bit of a thing about Pork Scratchings.  Perhaps people are latching on to my own method for making them at home ?  My earlier recipe is here.

Mmmmm .... hint of caraway seed added

So a bit more information on the subject is required …..

  • Pork scratchings originated in the early 19th century, when the production of meat began to be industrialised. The term literally means the scraps from the slaughterhouse floor.
  • An estimated 20 million packs of pork scratchings are sold each year as bar snacks. The Black Country in the West Midlands is the epicentre of the industry.
  • There are 606 calories and 2.9g of salt per 100g of pork scratchings (Source: Mr Porky’s, sold in 20g packs).
  • Traditionally, scratchings are fried and made with the softer, relatively hairless skin with attached fat, behind the hock (back foot) of the pig; crackling is roasted or baked, and can be made from a wider portion of the pig.
  • Before cooking scratchings, hair must be singed off and the skin blanched in boiling water to open the pores. Some swear by this to optimise crackling levels when roasting pork at home.
  • International versions include pork rinds and cracklings in the USA, grillons or grattons in France, chicharrones in Central America and the Spanish Caribbean.
  • 99 per cent of scratchings sold in the UK are made with Danish pork. Before recent changes in legislation, this was not revealed on labels.
  • When fried, the skin of the scratching hardens. All UK brands carry a label warning that contents are suitable only for people with strong healthy teeth.

There are also a couple of excellent websites devoted to Pork Sratchings with more on the history, recipes, reviews etc …. click on the logos


Charlie the butcher

Burns Night – there’s an App for that

OK, so the actual Night was on the 25th January but I’m guessing that many of you might be having your Burns Night event over the weekend and I have just stumbled across this great App to help you …
It is getting rave reviews and this is what the blub says ….

At last, an app to help you plan and have fun with one of the world’s greatest birthday parties. Going to an event this year? Find out what to expect, or learn something new. Better yet, why not plan your own wee birthday party in honour of Rabbie, one of history’s great partiers?

The app, produced by Spot Specific, and made super-stylish by Scott Smyth’s design, is now available from iTunes and live on the Android Market. So what are you waiting for? Download it and explore it for yourself! Thousands have already, thanks to iTunes featuring it on their New & Noteworthy picks the best new Lifestyle apps.
A stirring performance by Alasdair MacRae brings Tam o’ Shanter to life, and you can use the autocue to follow his lead and work on your own delivery without worrying about forgetting the lines or losing your place. Top singers Karine Polwart, Corrina Hewat and Annie Grace have treated us to some of their acclaimed Burns arrangements, and the built-in compass points you to Robert Burns’s birthplace, allowing you to salute him when raising your glasses to his Immortal Memory.

Learn all you ever wanted to know about Auld Lang Syne (including some of its more esoteric translations – Klingon for example), find out what it all means and cook up a storm with Burns Supper recipes.

So even if you have already had your Burns Night Supper for this year take a look and be all set up for next time.

Charlie the butcher