Feb 23, 2014

Tasting BLOOD Sausage

Blood Sausage
Rego's Purity of Hawaii brand
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When you say blood sausage, you might think that it is some kind of ghoulish vampire food, and you would probably be right, if there were such a thing as vampires. There is however such a thing as sausage made from BLOOD, usually pigs blood, but also from cattle, sheep, duck, chicken and goat blood depending on what part of the world you are talking about. But blood sausage is more than just blood, its mixed with fillers including meat, fat, suet, bread, cornmeal, potato, onion, chestnuts, barley, oatmeal, and many other things.

In the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand, blood sausage is referred to as black pudding, and is considered a delicacy. In Germany, Blutwurst is the blood sausage of choice, made with pork rind, pork blood and different fillers such as barley. In France, blood sausage, usually known as boudin noir, is taken very seriously. It is traditionally prepared with pork, duck and game. In Spain, blood sausage is referred to as morcilla, and has many variants, but usually containing pork blood and fat, rice, onions, and salt.

Thanks to the Portuguese immigrants, blood sausage made its way here to Hawaii. There are varieties local to Portugal, the Azores, China, India, and the US. One company on the Big Island, here in Hawaii, has a reputation for excellent blood sausage, Kulana Pork Blood Sausage from Kulana Foods. Unfortunately it is hard to find on the other Hawaiian islands. Check out this Hawaii website if you want to make your mouth water, click here.

So at this point you must be asking yourself if there are so many people around the world that are eating blood sausage, then what does it taste like? The worst description I read about was Irish blood sausage (called black pudding), on Fodor's travel website and it read... "it looks like clotted blood, and tastes like a nosebleed!".  Personally I have no problem with the taste of blood sausage, but I guess it depends on who makes it and what country it was made in. To me it's a mind over matter thing. If you didn't know that it was made from blood you would have no problem eating it. It just tastes rich, and it compliments so many recipes. As a chef, I am quite aware that there is a certain segment of society that will not try anything that is out of what they regard as normal, things like oysters, snails, pigs feet, beef tongue, chicken gizzards, or even liver. Take my mother-in-law for example... Please!

Because of our country's squeamishness, blood sausages are very difficult to find in American supermarkets, however that is changing, and blood sausage is slowly making inroads into popular cuisine, especially here in Hawaii. So the next time you get a taste for blood, and want a dark, funky, iron-packed tube steak, search out some good blood sausage, then try one of these recipes:

Azorean Grilled Blood Sausage 
with Pineapple
Azorean Grilled Blood Sausage
with Pineapple
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Many Azoreans and Portuguese came to the United States via Hawaii. Pineapples are also grown on the Azorean islands 850 miles west of Portugal, and blood sausage is a favorite there as well. They combine the two for this delicious sweet and savory bar snack, which I saw on Anthony Bourdain's travel show... Anthony is my hero, and he loves blood sausage.

1 blood sausage
fresh pineapple
8 short bamboo skewers

Grill the blood sausage enough to slightly char it. Slice into eight 1 inch pieces. Remove the top from a fresh ripe pineapple. Remove the outside rind with a sharp knife. Slice pineapple into 1/2 inch slices. Cut slices into quarters. Remove the core on each slice. Take a sharp bamboo skewer, polk a hole through the center of each slice of sausage and into each slice of pineapple. Place each li'i lea on a small plate and serve. Makes 8 servings.

Portuguese Blood Sausage & Beans
Portuguese blood sausage is called 'Morcela'. It is made from beef blood, pork fat, onions, garlic and spices, and then formed into a thick ring. This beautiful Portuguese stew is wonderful served with a good dark beer, crusty bread, and a rustic side salad.

1 pound dried white beans, or chickpeas soaked overnight
2 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, whole
olive oil
1 chorizo sausage, thickly sliced to 1/2 inch
1 blood sausage, thickly sliced to 1/2 inch
1/2 pound smoked ham hock, cut into chunks
4 chicken thighs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1– 14.5 ounce can sliced tomatoes
5 or 6 sprigs of fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika
1/4 cup roughly chopped parsley for garnish

Put the beans in a pot with the 2 bay leaves and the whole garlic. Cover with about 2 inches of water, bring to a boil, put the lid on and simmer for 1 hour.

Brown the sausages, ham hock and chicken thighs in some olive oil until crusty brown. Remove and set aside. Add the chopped garlic and onions to the pan and cook until the onions are soft. Add the tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf and sweet paprika, then cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the meats and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the meat mixture into the beans. Add enough water to just cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 hour with the lid on. The beans should still have shape but be creamy inside. Taste for seasoning (salt & pepper). Serve, garnished with parsley. Serve with crusty bread, a rustic side salad, and a good dark beer. Makes 4 servings.

Penne Pasta with Kale and Blood Sausage 
2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1/2 teaspoon table salt, or to taste, for cooking pasta
8 ounces uncooked blood sausage, cut into little chunks
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups uncooked curly kale, roughly chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup canned chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Cook penne pasta in salted water according to package directions; drain.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook sausage slices in olive oil about 3 minutes. Add garlic and kale; cook, stirring frequently, until kale is limp, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Add broth to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low; cook until kale is tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in cooked penne pasta; heat through.

Sprinkle each serving with cheese before serving. Makes 2 servings.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
with Blood Sausage
1/2 cup brown rice
1/2 cup fresh broccoli crowns
4 portobello mushrooms
olive oil
1/2 cup chopped blood sausage
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs, or I like to use crushed Ritz crackers
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Cook the brown rice according to package instructions. Remove the top crowns of the broccoli and blanch them in boiling salted water for 1 minute. Drain and put them on a plate to cool.

Carefully remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them into small pieces. Take a teaspoon and gently remove the black gills on the underside of each mushroom cap with the tip of the spoon. These gills have a bitter taste and should be discarded. Using your hands, lightly rub each portobello mushroom top with a little olive oil.

Cook the chopped blood sausage in a medium skillet until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the onion, celery, and chopped mushroom stems and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat. In a medium sized bowl, combine the cooked rice with the sausage mixture. Add the blanched broccoli, and the egg to the mixture and gently stir until combined.

Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Fill both mushroom caps with the mixture. Place the filled mushrooms on a baking sheet. Combine 1/4 cup of bread crumbs with 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Sprinkle the mixture over the tops of the mushrooms. Bake until golden brown on top and the mushrooms are tender, about 15 to 18 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Drizzle the tops with vinegar and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 4 servings.

Bloody Hero Sandwich
1 tablespoon olive oily
8 ounces of blood sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste
1 medium uncooked red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet red pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
8 ounce loaf Italian bread

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large nonstick skillet and set over medium heat. Sauté sausage until browned, about 5 minutes; remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to the same skillet and heat for about 45 seconds; add garlic and sauté until golden, about 30 seconds. Add onion and sauté for 3 minutes. Add peppers and sauté until vegetables are softened, about 6 to 8 minutes more.

Stir in vinegar and then return sausage to skillet; toss to combine.

Split bread lengthwise and fill with sausage mixture. Cut into 4 equal pieces and serve. Makes 4 servings. Note: This mixture can also be put into heated pita pockets instead of Italian bread.

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