Potato and black pudding bake

I’ve always loved visiting Scotland.  My dad’s sister lives there and I have many happy memories of holidays there with my cousins.  My child minder when I was young was also Scottish and was very pleased that I grew up to marry a Scotsman. I really just seem to be giving myself more and more excuses to go there.  When we got married, instead of registering at a department store we asked for donations towards a barrel of whisky which has been sitting in a warehouse maturing ever since.  This week, to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary we have headed up to Islay to come and visit our barrel to see how it is getting on (and whether it is ready to bottle), and the enjoy the beautiful Scottish landscape, and changeable weather.  Over the time we have been together my husband has taken it upon himself to introduce me to more Scottish food, one of his favourites of which is black pudding.  Black pudding is a bit of a divisive food, many people love it but there are also many people who wouldn’t go near it (either they’ve tried it and don’t like it, or just think it is too weird).  For me, there are some really horrible black puddings available but it can also be wonderful so, like sausages, getting a good quality one is essential.  My favourite ones are from my parents local butcher (full of grains, not too fatty and delicately spiced) and from a butcher on Islay (so lean we almost burned it, strongly spiced and with a texture like velvet) which we have sadly never been able to find anywhere else.  Although black pudding is quite high in fat it is also high in iron and a little goes a long way, either as the star of a meal or to crown other dishes such as venison or scallops.  Here is a recipe for a creamy layered vegetable bake topped with a little black pudding just to finish it off.  However, the black pudding is just the “icing on the cake” and the vegetable bake is also nice without it if you want to make a vegan version.

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Black pudding bake

Cooking time: 20 minutes preparation, 30-40 minutes baking

Dietary info: dairy-free

Serves: 3-4

  • ½ a quality black pudding (about 200g), thickly sliced (5-10mm)
  • 5 medium potatoes, sliced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 6 tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 400g mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tsp cornflour, mixed to a smooth liquid with water
  • 300ml almond milk or soy milk
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp onion granules
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (smoked if you can find it)
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  1. Steam the potatoes, or cook them in the microwave in a covered microwave safe bowl with a splash of water, until soft (about 8 minutes) and sprinkle with the ½ tsp salt
  2. Cook the mushrooms in a non stick frying pan, with a splash of water to stop them sticking, until soft (about 5-8 minutes)
  3. Cook the black pudding in a non-stick frying pan for a few minutes each side until it is cooked through.  It should change colour slightly all the way through and be crispy on the outside but still soft inside.  Black pudding usually has enough fat in it that it will cook in its own fat if you heat it gently at first but if it doesn’t, grease the pan with a little oil first.  When the black pudding it cooked through, drain it on kitchen paper to get rid of excess fat
  4. Mix together the cornflour water, spices and almond or soy milk in a saucepan and cook over a medium heat, stirring until thickened.  Season with the lemon juice
  5. Layer half the potatoes in an oven proof dish, then cover them with half the mushrooms, then half the tomatoes and pour over half the sauce. Repeat with the remaining potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes and sauce then top with the black pudding
  6. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 160C fan and serve with some steamed green vegetables e.g. broccoli, cabbage, spinach, and the tomato sauce below if you like

A few tips to prep ahead:

  • Make the sauce and keep in a sealed container in the fridge for 4-5 days
  • Cook the potatoes, mushrooms and black pudding and assemble the bake a day or two before and then just bake (step 6) on the night
  • Make the tomato sauce and keep in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a week

Some tasty little twists and extras…

  • If you don’t like black pudding, swap it for some bacon:
    • Cook the bacon rashers for a few minutes a side in a frying pan and drain on kitchen paper
    • Remove the rinds (optional – I just don’t like the rinds very much) and chop the bacon
    • Sprinkle over the bake for the last 10 minutes of cooking
  • For a vegetarian version, try breaking 2-4 eggs onto the top of the bake for the last 10 minutes of cooking (it will look like the bake is topped with fried eggs)
  • For a vegan version, top with extra mushrooms e.g. thick sliced Portobello mushrooms, or serve with some beans cooked in the tomato sauce below:
    • Either soak and cook 120g beans of your choice according to the packet instructions or use a can of beans, drained
    • Mix the beans with half of the tomato sauce recipe below and cook until heated through (3-5 minutes)
  • Try swapping the potato for sweet potato slices or slices of sweed, turnip or celeriac, or trying different mixes of mushrooms (e.g. button, chestnut, Portobello, enoki, shitake, oyster)
  • You can top any of the bakes listed here with a bit of grated cheese (dairy or vegan) e.g. a hard smoked cheese

I have written before about how much I love tomato sauce and how my husband thinks that there can never be too much sauce so unsurprisingly, here is a very simple tomato sauce that you can serve on the side of the bake above if you want some extra sauce.

Spiced tomato sauce

Cooking time: 5-10 minutes

Dietary info: vegan

Serves: 3-4 as a side to the bake described above

  • 500ml passata
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp onion granules
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (smoked if you can find it)
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  1. Mix together all of the ingredients apart from the lemon juice and heat, either in a saucepan or in the microwave in a microwave safe covered bowl, until warm (3-5 minutes)
  2. Season with the lemon juice and serve

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