A grim stalwart of a true Full English, black pudding has for many years been perceived as being one of the more unpalatable progeny of British cuisine. Along with the likes of jellied eels and winkles, black pudding harks back to an era when Britain was not unfairly considered the culinary backwater of Europe. Mercifully though, the tide has long since turned and thanks to an army of parading TV chefs, there is a renewed appreciation of local produce and food traditions in the UK. As a result, British cuisine has witnessed an unprecedented renaissance and thankfully, winkles not withstanding, the likes of black pudding have come along for the ride. Unfortunately, the reality is that few ingredients can transcend disgusting to de rigueur, but black pudding is slowly making its way back into the mainstream of British cuisine.
In nearby Spain, however, black pudding has had a far easier time of it. Known as morcilla or blood sausage, the Spanish seem to have none of the hang-ups about eating it that typically plauge its British cousin. Whether it be simply fried and served with bread or used to add depth and flavour to stews and soups, morcilla remains popular throughout Spain, if not the entire Spanish-speaking world.
Which brings me to this delightfully hearty stew!
On the face of it, this is just another typical Spanish stew, but what sets this recipe apart is, of course, the addition of black pudding. One of the last ingredients to be added, the black pudding has a transformative effect on the dish and is an absolute flavour-masterstroke – especially if the stew is afforded an evening to mature in the fridge. First fried and then added at the final stage of cooking, the black pudding melds with the sauce as it simmers, adding a depth and richness that elevates this humble stew to new, delicious, heights!
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Spanish Pork, Chickpea & Black Pudding Stew
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely diced
- 1 celery stick, finely diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 800g to 1kg boneless pork neck, cut into 3cm chunks
- 200g black pudding (morcilla), cut into 1.5cm-thick slices
- 250ml dry sherry
- 750ml chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 x tinned chickpeas (or butter beans), rinsed and drained
- 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leafed Italian parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a large casserole, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat. Add the onions and sauté the onions until soft
- Add the thyme, carrot and celery, sauté for five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove the vegetables from the casserole and set aside
- Add a second tbsp of olive oil and increase the heat to high. Season the cubed pork and brown in batches. Remove the browned meat from the casserole and set aside along with the cooked vegetables
- In the same casserole, add the slices of morcilla (black pudding) and lightly brown on both sides. Once cooked, divide the slices into halves, set aside
- Deglaze the hot casserole with the sherry
- Return the pork and vegetables to the casserole along with the stock and bay leaves
- Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a steady simmer. Cover and cook gently for 30 minutes
- Using a fork, lightly mash a quarter of the drained chickpeas. Add all the chickpeas to the casserole and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes
- Once the pork is very tender, add the morcilla and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. The morcilla will break up slightly as it simmers
- Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly
- Gently stir in the parsley
Serve with some simply sautéed kale or Swiss chard and crusty bread