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The Art Of The Black Pudding

Learning the art of making award winning black pudding with Grantown on Spey's butchery legends Cairngorm Butchers.

After years of buying our meat from these meat Ninjas, I plucked up the courage to ask Barry if he would let me come in & watch them make their award winning black pudding.

Barry was a little taken aback when I asked & I think his reply was absolutely but only if you don't have a weak stomach & you bring cake. I replied with a cheeky nah I'm a Kiwi farm girl mate.

I walked home thinking flipping heck what is involved in making this Scottish staple? Do I have to bleed the animal myself?

So on my day off I arrived with a huge tray of brownie, my chef whites (in the hope they would let me get stuck in) & a few nerves that I may never want to eat black pudding again.

I was put in the hands of Kev who is the black pudding master & away we went (no animals needed bleeding by the way). On the bench was two huge bags of blood, onions, oatmeal, spices, herbs & all sorts of secret things (if I told you I would have to kill you). Kev guided me to the walk in fridge to slice the suet straight from a huge carcass that hung in front of us. While he effortlessly sliced the suet away with his insanely sharp knife he explained this is where the kidneys once were & the fat he was removing once protected the kidneys of this beautiful beast. I was delighted when Kev let me use his knife to chop up the suet, peel the onions & generally be his number 1 bitch.

I was in awe, we chatted all sorts of geeky stuff like, powdered blood or fresh blood & Barry popped in to tell stories of "The local old boys" coming around & giving him advice on what blood & ingredients to use, to get the best colour, flavour & texture.

As I stood there helping feed ingredients into the mincer it struck me that I was witnessing a piece of local history. This was not just a lump of black pudding I buy over the counter, it's a combination of taking incredibly fresh local produce & combining it with years of local recipes, family secrets, stories, opinions & a whole heap of Scottish pride.

It was a lightbulb moment as to why all black pudding is so different around Scotland. If anything this experience made me want to eat more black pudding, the ingredients were so fresh, local & not at all scary or gross!

Some might think I am a little bit mad for giving up my only day off, to stand in a freezing cold butchers shop for hours, talking blood & traditions, but I felt honoured to be hands on witnessing this little window of Highland history.

On my next visit I was presented with my very own black pudding ( I would like to add mine was a lot more scruffy, wrinkly & baggy than Kev's).

Anyway much to Al's disappointment I took it to the cafe & proudly made an egg special with my Black pud, smashed avocado, poached eggs, chilli hollandaise on a toasted muffin. What a feeling to watch the pudding you made yourself go on a plate for a customer!

Thanks Barry, Kev, Neil & Kalen for putting up with a nosey & over enthusiastic chef for an afternoon!

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