Category Archives: Offal

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


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


Haggis time again

Yes, it is haggis time again. Last year around this time I gave you a bit of background history and some recipe and serving advice so have a little butchers here ….

This year has been a bit milder some we are hoping for a better supply from the highlands but it hasn’t always been that way ….

This once popular sport amongst the nobility and gentry of Britain and Europe reached its peak in the early 1920s with gentlemen converging on the stately homes of the North Yorkshire Moors from all around Europe during haggis hunting season.  Back in those days, when large haggis herds roamed the Moors in abundance, a hunt would last for several days, with literally dozens of haggis being shot (or hagged in hunting parlance) in just one session.

A good days work

A typical haggis hunting session would consist of the beaters, or haggillies to give them their correct name, taking their haggis hounds, an all but forgotten breed of specialised hunting dog, onto the Moors and herding the haggis towards the carefully positioned haggis hides.  In these hides the hunters would wait patiently until the traditional cry of ‘Hag Ho!’ went up from the chief hagilly, at which point they would take up their gun positions and attempt to hag as many of the small but elusive creatures as possible as they stampeded past.

A typical haggis hunting party

In the intervening years between then and now there have been several unconfirmed sightings of haggis around the Moors, but the sad truth is that the haggis were hunted out of existence on the Moors and are now confined to the Highlands of Scotland.

So we have to rely on haggis being rustled across the border …

Haggis smuggling (a reconstruction to protect the identity of the smugglers)

Following my posting last year about Burns Night especially the traditional address to the haggis you might want to take a butchers at this nostalgic clip

Charlie the butcher

Talking tripe

There’s not a lot going for tripe with its name being used to talk about nonsense. No more than a handful of restaurants ever serve it.

Various types of tripe

Beef tripe is usually made from only the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach: the rumen (blanket/flat/smooth tripe), the reticulum (honeycomb and pocket tripe), and the omasum (book/bible/leaf tripe).

Cow's stomachs

The reason is that it is a hugely misunderstood ingredient. Elsewhere in the world, tripe has retained its gastronomic dignity. The Chinese have a score of ways of cooking it, the Italians and Spanish adore it and the French have such classic dishes as tripe à la mode de Caen which is treated as a culinary masterpiece.

This is in contrast to the collapse of tripe eating in Britain. It was at its most popular from late Victorian times to the 1950s, when it was a tasty, cheap and nourishing source of animal protein.

The decline in the popularity of tripe coincided with growing economic prosperity from the mid-1950s onwards. As poverty declined an ingredient associated with poorer times was rejected.

This falling off in retail sales in the late 1950s and early 1960s, came at a time when there was no restaurant culture in Britain which might have been able to introduce it to new audiences or at least save it from near-extinction.

It sounds fanciful today, but 30 years ago there was a restaurant chain in the north of England which featured tripe almost as a signature dish. The romantically-named United Cattle Products (UCP) restaurants had cold tripe salads, tripe and onions and steak and cowheel pie permanently on the menu. Sadly, neither the company nor its restaurants survived.

Tripe has remained a popular ingredient with the older generation who enjoyed it in harder times, but for a younger audience tripe is a bit of a curiosity or simply a pet food.

Tripe dressing

One inevitable result of the decline of interest in tripe eating in the UK is the decimation of the tripe dressing industry, (dressing being the quaint term for the practice of boiling and preparing cattle stomachs for sale as tripe).


Most major towns used to have at least one tripe dresser,
but now there are noThose were the daysmore than a handful left in Britain, mostly in the north of England where tripe eating is still popular.





A surviving tripe shop in Leeds Market

There are very few places where you can buy it these days but ask at your local butcher.





British cooking of tripe has remained loyal to a very small number of recipes, most commonly lightly cooked in a thickened, white onion sauce. This dish is always served with creamed potatoes and a dusting of fine-ground white pepper.

Less common is tripe fried with bacon; creamed tripe with a toasted potato topping in cottage pie style; or, creamed tripe with celery instead of onions.

Tripe has also been eaten cold in England, served simply with sliced tomatoes or a full salad. Brown malt vinegar is sprinkled on the tripe to give some acidity.

All is not lost for tripe. A very slow, but steady increase in its use in restaurants, most noticeably among those pushing down the rustic route, has begun.

Tripe is a versatile ingredient and will absorb other flavours yet still retain its own character.

Click here for an interesting range of tripe recipes and here for a traditional tripe and onions recipe.

Charlie the Butcher

Traditional homemade faggot recipe

I love the old school meat products that once upon a time would grace every butchers’ shop up and down the country. Ranging from homemade corned beef to saveloy, one of many of my favourites is the classic faggot which is also called, for some reason, “ducks” in the Midlands, Yorkshire and Lancashire. It’s rarely seen now which is such a shame has they are lovely, easy, cheap and quick to cook. You might spot the famous “Mr Brian’s Faggots” that are sometimes in the frozen section of supermarkets and I’m not altogether sure what goes into them. But faggots have now started to spring up on gastro pub menus, like the Stagg Inn in Herefordshire.  This is a good sign to see.

The published history of the faggot dates back to 1851 when it first appeared in the Oxford English Dictionary.

I am often asked at work “what is a faggot?”.  Well, traditionally,  it is a mixture of pigs liver, fatty pork mince, fresh sage, fresh thyme, garlic, salt and pepper. I like to keep it simple and let the true flavour of the liver and mince shine. Pigs’ hearts have also been sometimes added along with breadcrumbs. It is then wrapped in caul fat which is a webb like meshing membrane from the pig’s abdomen. I compare them to almost a offal like meatball or a rustic French pâté. As faggots are hard to find I’ve put together my own simple  homemade faggot recipe thats easy and fun to make at home. They also freeze well so fill that freezer up with them.


  • 500g minced fresh pork liver
  • 1kg fatty course minced pork
  • 1 bunch of fresh sage and thyme
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • 300g caul fat soaked in water

Step 1
Collect the herbs.

Step 2
Mix all the ingredients until it becomes sticky, this is a sign that the proteins are coming out and will help bind the mixture together.

Step 3
Drain the caul fat and place some of the mixture on the caul fat, the weight is up to you. I like 200g but you may want more or less.

Step 4
Step back and enjoy the masterpieces.

Step 5
Either wrap them up for the freezer or cook them. I like them slow cooked in the oven at 150C for about one hour and served with mash, mustard and the faggot juices over them. If I have any greens like cabbage or sprout top they also work well. It is tradition in the Black Country to serve them with peas and onion gravy.

Enjoy with a nice glass of English Ale.

Charlie the Butcher.


A good breakfast is the key to a good day in my book and on my days off I like to go that extra mile. This simple, quick and lovely breakfast is a favorite of mine. It has 3 key ingredients lambs kidney, dry cured back bacon and black pudding all on thick hand sliced white toast.


  • 2 Lambs Kidneys cut in half and core removed
  • 4 Rashers of dry cured free range or organic bacon
  • 2 Slices of the best black pudding you can get, try the classic Bury Black Pudding
  • Butter
  • Decent white bread
  • Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce

Serves 2.

Step 1

Get all the food ready.

IMGP0090Step 2

Warm two frying pans up, one for the kidneys and one for the black pudding and bacon.

Step 3

Add the kidneys and fry with the help of the perrins for a minute.

Step 4

Add the black pudding and bacon to the other pan.

Step 5

Cook for 4 minutes until the bacon is coloured and crispy and the black pudding is shinning.

Step 6

Start the toast.

Step 7

Put all goodies on the buttered toast with a twist of pepper and enjoy.


Charlie the Butcher.