Given that my husband is an annoyingly picky eater, it came as a bit of a surprise when we discovered that he really likes black pudding. The first time we went to Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Las Vegas was on the evening of our wedding (yes, we got married in Vegas) and Drew ordered the boudin noir with caramelized apples and pommes puree. I was convinced that he wouldn't like it, but he enjoyed it so much, he ordered it on two subsequent visits, which I think is an insane thing to do when you're presented with other such amazing dishes....
Black pudding isn't something we tend to buy very often, but whenever we come across a nice looking one at a farmers' market we'll snap it up. Last weekend, at the farmers' market in Newbury, Oxfordshire pork farmers Eadles had some beautiful stuff on display, including a lovely bit of black pudding that Drew quickly grabbed.
Often, I'll cook it as a part of a full English breakfast or similar but tonight I thought I'd something similar to his favourite dish with the caramelized apples and potatoes but with a few tweaks.
It seems that these days, whenever you see black pudding on a gastro-pub menu, it's been paired with scallops. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I mean they're a lovely pairing of tender and sweet with more dense and earthy but I wanted to try something a little different.
A prawn cake sounded like a nice idea to me, as well as a spring colcannon made with spinach instead of kale or cabbage. I used an eating apple (Cox) to garnish, as cooking apples disintegrate too easily. A Braeburn, Gala or Jazz would work very well.
It goes without saying that the quality of ingredients is hugely important. This is not the time for Tesco Value black pudding (but then, when IS the time for Tesco Value ?) And it's important not to use prawns which are already cooked. Save your prawn shells and freeze them for later use in stocks or sauces.
Black Pudding with Prawn Cakes, Caramelized Apples and Spring Colcannon
Serves 2, takes 1 hour or a little more
300g (10.5oz) free range black pudding
1 tbsp olive oil
For the Prawn Cakes:
250g uncooked prawns, shelled and deveined
large handful rocket, (arugula) chopped
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp coarse, panko-style bread crumbs
1 egg white
For the Colcannon:
400g good mashing potatoes, such as Accent or Desiree
100g fresh spinach, washed
pinch, freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp butter
100 ml cream
50 ml milk (approx)
salt and pepper to taste
For the Apples:
1 nice eating apple, peeled peeled and cored, cut into 8ths
1 tbsp golden caster sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter
Put all of the ingredients for the prawn cakes except for the breadcrumbs into a food processor and pulse a few times until just chopped and combined, but not a smooth paste, tip into a bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs.
Put a sheet of cling film on a baking tray, then smear the inside of a 5cm (2") ring mould or cookie cutter* with a little oil and set it on the cling film. Spoon 2 level tbsp of the prawn mixture into the mould and spread out evenly. Lift the mould and repeat 7 more times until you have 8 small, round patties on the sheet. Refrigerate these while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Peel the potatoes and boil in a pan of liberally salted water for 12-17 minutes, until tender to the tip of a knife, then drain completely and set aside until cooled a little then put them through a ricer.
While the potatoes are boiling, cook the black pudding and the apples.
Remove the casing from the black pudding and slice off eight pieces about half an inch thick.
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a moderate heat and fry the black pudding for 2-3 minutes per side, until slightly crusty/crunchy around the edges and well browned. Move to a plate and keep warm in a low oven.
Meanwhile, heat a small frying pan over a medium heat and sprinkle the sugar into the pan. When the sugar begins to go golden brown, add the butter and stir well, then add the apple pieces. Cook the apple in the caramel for a few minutes before tossing to turn over and cook all over. When just tender, tip into a bowl and put in the warm oven with the black pudding.
Put a little butter in the large frying pan that you cooked the black pudding in and heat over a medium flame. When the butter and residual oil is nice and hot cook the prawn cakes for a couple of minutes until golden brown on one side, then turn over and finish on the second side.
While the prawn cakes are cooking, melt the 2 tbsp of butter over a medium heat with the salt and pepper and the nutmeg. Once the butter has melted, add the spinach and stir in well until soft and wilted, then add in the riced potatoes and stir in the cream. Stir the mixture well, adding enough of the milk to make a soft but not sloppy mixture. Test for seasoning, then serve the prawn cakes and black pudding with a spoonful of the colcannon and the caramelized apples.
*You don't NEED to use a mould, you can just form roughly round patties with teaspoons or your fingers dipped in cold water.