buckwheat blood pudding with spiced apple compote
Okay, dudes. Let's get real. And bloody. Real and bloody. Minnesota winters are hard, and without the proper preventative self-care it is quite easy to turn into a cranky, crying, tired-all-the-time, white walker version of yourself as you freeze under piles of blankets in the dark and wonder where Jon Snow is and whether the sun will ever come back out. Maaaybe I'm being a bit dramatic (but not really). The clinical term for this is called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and it's a condition quite common in these colder climates we've settled in, and something I find I struggle to overcome every winter.
Yet as the days get dark and an unshakeable chill settles upon our Northern lands, as the nights become darker still and full of terrors, I'm here to remind you of a magical little thing called Vitamin D: one of the easiest ways to combat all those un-fun symptoms of SAD, and a powerful nutrient to incorporate into your diet everyday, especially in the wintertime. While Vitamin D supplements are prevalent, and a great way to boost your levels, getting your D through SUNSHINE (and/or happy lights!) and food sources is even better. So on that note, BEHOLD! We bring you BLOOD.
Our ancestors in the North have been eating it for centuries, in a time when every part of the animal was put to use, out of necessity and austerity, and with this in mind and some old cookbooks in hand, my long-lost sister of the North Lucia Hawley and I embarked on a journey to recreate a bloody good dish of olde: Blood Pudding. Nutrient-dense and packed with SAD-combatting vitamins and minerals, the recipe below is sure to warm your frozen toes and rosy your gray cheeks, so you can be the fire that burns against the cold.
For a grain-free version, and more information about managing Seasonal Affective Disorder, head to Lucia’s beautiful blog.
For the bread pudding:
• 1.5 cups fresh beef or pig's blood (see NOTE)
• ½ cup buckwheat groats
• ¼ cup buckwheat flour (or finely ground buckwheat groats)
• 1 cup finely diced uncured slab bacon
• ½ large onion, finely diced
• ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
• ¾ tsp. white pepper
• ½ tsp. allspice
• ½ tsp. cinnamon
• 6-8 juniper berries, ground in a spice/coffee grinder or mortar & pestle
• 2 tsp. salt, to taste, divided
For the apple compote:
• 3-4 large apples, roughly chopped into cubes
• Handful of fresh/frozen cranberries
• 2 tbsp. dark maple syrup
• Allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, to taste (¼–½ tsp. each)
• a couple pinched of salt
2 teaspoons lemon juice
• 1 tsp. vanilla extract
• Greens–spinach, arugula, etc
• Roasted sweet potato slices
• Fried eggs
Preheat the oven to 325° F, and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Do not use foil, or have blood sausage come in direct contact with metal, to avoid a reaction that creates an off flavor.
Stir 1 tsp. of salt into the blood, and set aside. In a small saucepan, combine 1 ½ cups water with the buckwheat groats, buckwheat flour, and a couple pinches of salt, and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer until liquid is absorbed and buckwheat groats are very tender, adding an extra splash of water as needed if it evaporates to quickly. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
Pour the blood through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl, and add the cooled buckwheat mixture and remaining ingredients, stirring until well-combined. Pour the bloody batter into your prepared loaf pan, cover with parchment and foil, and bake for 60-70 minutes, until the pudding is very firm. Allow the pudding to cool completely, then refrigerate overnight to allow it to set up.
When ready to serve the blood pudding, make the compote: Combine all compote ingredients in a medium-sized saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are very soft and mixture is fragrant. Set aside while you plate the blood pudding.
Remove the chilled blood pudding from the loaf pan, and carefully slice into ½–1 inch slices. In a medium pan over medium-high heat, fry the slices on both sides in butter or oil until fully browned, adding additional salt to taste. Serve slices over greens and roasted sweet potatoes, topped with the warm apple compote and a fried egg. Winter is here.
NOTE: Please make sure you source your blood from a humanely raised, high-quality, healthy animal. The used beef blood in our recipe, and found a few small meat markets in our area carried it. Call around! Start a conversation! Befriend a butcher!