Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Black pudding and lentils

I rarely bother writing about "assembly" dinners (i.e. you take a lot of nice things and cook them and have them on the same plate and that's that) because I reckon you can probably work that kind of stuff out for yourself. But I was moved to write about this farewell dinner my husband made for me on Sunday night before disappearing for another week's filming.

We have in this house, I think, quite an odd diet. We don't eat pasta or potatoes except in emergencies and limit fish to very special occasions.

We also rarely - like, never - eat steak or fillet or any prime cuts of anything. Not even free-range organic stuff. We mostly eat the offcuts - belly, shin, cheeks, wings, beaks, feet, ears etc - to assuage our complex feelings about eating animals. By living off these odds and ends we are not the ones driving intensive farming and the slaughter of animals, (killed primarily for "prime" cuts like steak), we are merely mopping up the leftovers, giving a home to the scrag ends that would otherwise go in the bin.

But then this weekend because we were feeling out of sorts my husband bought from the farmers' market some really properly luxe fillet steak. And it was FUCKING AMAZING. We bought too much and roasted it with half a baked potato each (just to keep our spirits up) a couple of marrow bones and a parsley salad and then had the leftovers in sandwiches the next day.

From the same butcher (Twelve Green Acres, if you are interested) we also bought some fantastic black pudding and my husband made it for dinner on a bed of lentils and popped a coddled egg on top. And it was as nice as the fillet steak - just in a slightly different way.

Black pudding and lentils, by Giles

For 2

2 eggs
100g (dried weight) green lentils
1 onion
salt and pepper
1 or 2 discs (each) of the best-quality black pudding you can get your hands on
oil for frying
(We had some tired tomatoes hanging about so roasted them for 30 mins, but by all means leave them out.)

1 Boil your lentils until very soft - about 25 minutes in salted water.

2 In a frying pan fry the chopped onion gently in oil for about 15 minutes. If you had some chorizo knocking about you could fry a few cubes of that alongside it, but it's not essential. I have not included garlic because my friend Henry, who is a chef, said the other day that he's stopped automatically adding garlic to everything he cooks because he thinks it's lazy and makes everything taste the same. But you are free to add garlic if you fancy it.

3 Add the lentils and heat through. Shift the lentils and onions to one side when done and fry off your discs of black pudding in the same pan to save on washing up.

4 If you have an egg coddler, do two eggs in that. If not, poach if you're able to. If not, just fry the buggers.

5 Assemble your dinner by putting down a layer of lentils, then the black pudding then the egg on top.


  1. OK, not being from England, but loving everything about it and dying to visit (I think it comes from studying too much British Lit in college) I've always been confused about the whole "pudding" thing. First, I thought it was a specific thing that you Englanders made at Christmas. Then I thought you used it to describe a variety of desserts. Now you are having it as a main course. Can you give me a short lesson?

  2. God, I love Black Pudding, especially with an egg. Last time I ate it in a restaurant it came with a little foamy sauce and good bacon and fried sourdough bread, it was exquisite. Yours looks pretty good too!

  3. I live in Bury, home of the finest black pudding in the world. It's hard to beat a hot pudding split open and smeared with mustard, straight off the market stall on a freezing cold day.

    But it's also fab done this way, with a big breakfast or used as the wrapping for a scotch egg. I also use it in Cow Pie, it breaks down in the gravy and adds depth and flavour.

  4. The Queen:

    You seem to have it sorted as it is.

    A pudding in England generally means a dessert and a Christmas pudding is just a specific kind of pudding.

    The two savoury exceptions to this are Yorkshire Puddings (which are made from batter and go with roast beef) and black pudding. I don't know why these in particular took the name "pudding". They both originate from the north of England, where the word "pudding" may have an even more general meaning than elsewhere.

    I hope that clears up some things.

    E xxx

  5. Just to add to the confusion the 'You may also like' is currently displaying Steak and Kidney Pudding, Lemon Surprise Pudding and a Prune Pudding. I'm from Yorkshire and have no idea why it's used for savoury food, all I know is that the call for pudding comes at the end of a meal and covers all types of dessert. 'Afters' can be substituted for 'Pudding' as well.

  6. Oh god yes of course... Steak and kidney pudding. Forgot that one.

  7. It looks like two big slabs of tar heroin. Sorry.


  8. Bloody love Black Pudding. Yum.

    Gave some to the baby last week with apples and some roasted sweet potato. She loved it (just don't mention the salt content).

  9. I am struggling a bit with this dish . I love all the ingredients but don't think I would put black pudding with lentils when a sauté potato could do an exemplary job of partnering both black pudding and egg.
    Glad to see your blogging like a demon though!

  10. There's also Hog's Pudding (or Groats pudding) which looks like a white version of bp, made from pork fat, white pepper, oats etc. Sold in the West Country and appears in a cooked breakfast instead of bp. Very nice too.

    Sometimes called West Country haggis apparently (thank you Wiki)

  11. Black pudding from Stornoway in the Hebrides in Scotland is bloody brilliant too. But then , I am happy to try it from anywhere! We also have a white pudding here in scotland, most commonly seen in chip shops , but it sounds like the hogs pudding and is pretty nice too!
    Of course, got to mention haggis...it is like cross of black and white pudding and really is just great. That would be a good substitute in this recipe too.
    Great to see you back blogging Esther, was missing recipe rifle a lot!