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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

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

Wishing you a Happy Christmas

So the meat madness is nearly over for another year , just a few more days before we are finished up in South East London. I’ve been workimng day and night …

…. not quite in these sort of conditions !

This year I’m on my way to Exmouth. With a free-range turkey, a Mrs Kings Pork Pie and plenty of smoked salmon I’m sorted. Wishing you all a wicked Christmas.

Charlie the butcher

Its that goose time of year

Around this tme last year I was suggesting that you might want to think about having a goose instead of a turkey for your Christmas dinner. Have a peek here to see what I was on about.

It seems that many people are taking the idea more seriously with more people choosing a goose for Christmas – the age-old tradition, natural open-air lifestyle of the goose and succulent flavour are appealing qualities.

Families often choose a goose for the first time – and find that cooking is much easier than they’d realised. There’s also the bonus of goose fat, so cherished by top chefs, for perfect roast potatoes and parsnips.
The British Goose Producers have created a new recipe leaflet available from their producers, farm shops and butchers, or by contacting British Goose Producers.

A recent independent ADAS study on goose meat has found that the real fat content of goose meat today is much lower than the general figures quoted in the traditional nutritional textbooks. Aagain the British Goose Producers have published five helpful hints for cooking and serving goose.

For much more information from the British Goose Producers take a look here.

If all else fails you could follow Gordon Ramsey’s spicey goose recipe.

Charlie the butcher

Dick Turpin, butcher and highwayman.

We are just coming up to the  anniversary of a famous historical figure who also happened to be a butcher.

Richard “Dick” Turpin was an English highwayman with his exploits being made famous following his execution in York for horse theft. He is also known for a fictional 200-mile ride from London to York on his steed Black Bess, a story that was made famous by the Victorian novelist William Harrison Ainsworth almost 100 years after Turpin’s death.

He was born at the Blue Bell Inn in Hempstead, Essex,  the fifth of six children to John Turpin and Mary Elizabeth Parmenter. The anniversary is of his baptism on 21st September 1705.

Parish Register - Dick Turpi is the 5th name

Turpin’s father was a butcher, and also an inn-keeper. Several stories suggest that Dick Turpin may have followed his father into these trades; one story hints that as a teenager he was apprenticed to a butcher in the village of Whitechapel, and another suggests that he ran his own butcher’s shop in Thaxted. Testimony from his trial in 1739 suggested that he had a rudimentary education and, although no records survive of the date of the union, n about 1725 he married Elizabeth Millington.

Following his apprenticeship they moved north to Buckhurst Hill, Essex where Turpin opened a butcher’s shop.

Turpin most likely became involved with the Essex gang of deer thieves in the early 1730s. Deer poaching had been widespread in the Royal Forest of Waltham, and in 1723 the Black Act (so called because it outlawed the blackening or disguising of faces while in the forests) was created to deal with such problems. Deer stealing was a domestic offence that was judged not in civil courts, but before Justices Of The Peace; it was not until 1737 that the more severe penalty of seven years transportation was introduced.
The Essex gang needed contacts to help them to dispose of the deer. Turpin, a young butcher who traded in the area, almost certainly became involved with their activities. By 1733 the changing fortunes of the gang may have prompted him to leave the butchery trade, and he became the landlord of a public house, most likely the Rose and Crown at Clay Hill. Although there is no evidence to suggest that Turpin was directly involved in the thefts, by summer 1734 he was a close associate of the gang.

Charlie the butcher