Recipe: Devilled Black Pudding

I am going to stick my neck out and call this the best satisfying brunch ever. It ticks all the boxes you need when suffering the effects of a big night out – bread, meat, eggs and something spicy. It’s a dirty version of eggs Benedict really, which glorious as it is, has been done to death on the recipe blogs.

devilled black pudding (on flickr)

Devilled black pudding (serves one)

  • 120g best quality black pudding you can get
  • 1 or 2 large, free-range eggs
  • Good sourdough bread
  • Chopped parsley

For the sauce:

  • 1 medium onion/large shallot
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 3tb brown sugar
  • 2tb red wine vinegar
  • 4tb tomato ketchup
  • 1ts english mustard
  • 4tb worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Pinch of salt and pepper

Chop your onion, and add to a medium-hot pan with a pinch of salt, and your smashed garlic, and get it softened.

Throw in the the brown sugar, and stir, you will have a thick paste. Smells good, right?

Turn up the heat and add the red wine vinegar, and reduce it ever so slightly. Now you can add the rest of the ingredients and stir them in. Remember tabasco can be canny hot, so add less if you’re a wimp. It is supposed to be “devilled” though.

Let it blip over for a while. Get your black pudding grilling, or let’s not pretend this is a health dish, frying in some lovely butter. Get your toast grilling, making sure to use a good sourdough, or other robust bread.

Check the thickness of your sauce – you want a bit thicker than coating the back of a spoon, but not “gloopy”. If you can be bothered, blend it smooth. That’s too much work for the morning though, surely?

Poach or fry your egg. Have two if you’re greedy.

Black pudding on toast, sauce on black pudding, egg on top. Sprinkle with parsley. Get a good strong brew on, or as I’ve done today, a gin & tonic. Enjoy!

Thanks to Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce for sending over a couple of bottles! They also suggest this recipe for lasagne but really, adding Worcestershire sauce to anything is usually a pretty good idea.

Jamie’s Italian, Newcastle

(For best effect, read while listening to this and drinking a mug of EV olive oil).

Oh Jamie.

This is a tough one, because I’m not one of those who thinks you are a fat-tongued, mildly smug cockney who persistently nannies us all into eating more healthily. I mean, I quite like your TV shows, you’re good at them. But something inside wants me to hate your restaurants, deride them as independent-crushing, copy & paste cash cows. Prejudices aside, I’ve been to few parts of your empire in different cities now, and annoyingly, they’ve all been pretty much “alright”.

jambes italian crab (on flickr)

You’ve finally made it to Newcastle (NE1 7AL). Of course you have, even our waitress proudly told us how you used pedestrian tracking cameras to determine the footfall by the monument was 15,000 per day(!), so an ace (£££) little spot for you, really.

It’s nowhere near as grand as the Manchester, or Scottish branches, but my god, it is enormous. For a sense of scale, I overheard the head chef call for table 98. Wow. Walking the looong trek to our table last week, your walls are adorned with your sets of wooden planks, cutlery, crockery, and of course, all of of your books. Buy, buy, buy. It’s a bit bloody exhausting.

You can quickly see this is a restaurant/arm of a business operation which is highly honed, so it’s all very, very cynical, but is it any good? It’d be easy to just say no, it’s Zizzi/Prezzo/HighStreetChain#168 but a bit more “wicked”, but some of the food is actually quite decent. 

jambes italian meat plank (on flickr)

jambes italian olives and bread (on flickr)

Pastas, antipasti, all things vaguely-Italian, and all the flourishes you’d see on 30 Minute Meals are all on the menu, and it all sounds very “pukka”. The cocktails were great for the price (~£7), and though I’ve not yet ordered wine, many have said it’s reasonably priced, given the quality. 

So the food…well, they may or may not be “the world’s best olives”, but damn they are good. Served on ice, sweet, fruity, and just lovely, they’re a world away from the sad little acidic snots often served in your Da Mimmo’s, etc. I yearn for just a few more than the serving of six, but then the accompanying “music bread” and tapenade are equally delicious. The antipasto is much the same – though ridiculously served on one of Jamie’s Planks™ which sits on two tins of tomatoes on a pretty small table. The sourcing of the ingredients is obviously pretty sharp, though you can just imagine the swathes of Italian land & suppliers Jamie & Gennaro have bought up, just to ship over Northern England to sell at a canny mark-up.

jambes italian lamb ragu (on flickr)

Your £6.85 plank for one yields four slivers of salami/mortadella/schiacciata & proscuitto, a golf ball sized buffalo mozzarella, a postage stamp of pecorino and salad&pickles. Again, it’s annoyingly delicious, further punishing the lack of our very own Friends of Ham. Breads are equally fresh & well done, and as you’d expect, Jamie’s patented EVOO douses everything. For your average Filippo Berio consumer though, it is very, very palatable.

The service is sickeningly slick – obviously the line in the training manual is “just be Jamie Oliver”. If this is the case, the UK must be spawning a small army of mini-Jamie’s because there are dozens of staff running about. Some people, will of course love all this “cheeky chappy” shenanigans. 

jambes italian polenta chips (on flickr)

The slick presentation extends to the food itself. Just as with his TV shows, things are dressed just so, pasta comes with panngrattato on the side, salads are “pimped” with many, many components. Again, think “30 Minute Meals”, as much of the food even seems to be riding Jamie’s health wagon. I imagine the vision was to “do” Italian chain restaurants better than anyone else, and you can imagine his smug little face, knowing he’s done just that. There are nearly 40 branches now.

Given the complete lack of pizza effort, I would have thought that pasta would have been right at the forefront. Quick to cook, high mark-up, made fresh every day, just do it really well, but none of the many I’ve had have really blown me away. Not even cooked as al dente as I like it really. Serve it on as many daft plates as you like, the sausage parpadelle – dry, the rabbit cassarecce - uninspiring, and lamb ragus – just a bit lacking in oomph. About £10-12 each. We try some “famous” polenta chips which were texturally nice and crispy, but no amount of showering with parmesan and rosemary showering gives them a flavour of much more than wallpaper paste. I’ll be damned if you want me to order “posh” (truffle), or “funky” (garlic) chips.

jambes italian sausage (on flickr)

So a bit of a quandary really. Bit of a grumpy cynic like me? You will still enjoy the ride, but maybe through gritted teeth, knowing you’re lining Jamie’s bulging pockets.

Judging by the fact the place has been consistently heaving since opening though, I guess most of Newcastle will lap it up, especially if you love Mr. O and all that he does. The food really is good in places, but not to labour a point, we have some great independents doing similar stuff, and whom actually invest back into the city. Try Caffe Vivo for one. Something nags me inside though, knowing I’ll be back at some point though…

Have you been? What did you think?


jambes italian rabbit ragu (on flickr)

Southbank Grill, Newcastle, and Pulled Pork Sliders

This is our local restaurant. Just down the street. We’ve walked by it so, so many times, and yet, we’ve never been. It has hosted many, many other restaurants. Remember O de V?

It looked sort of interesting before it opened. Meat, check. Hipster logo, check, “Purveyors of fine food”… But this is where restaurants come to die. It’s a shame, because in theory, it’s a great location (NE8 2BJ). Large, airy, great riverside view, outside cocktail bit. But, I can’t help but feel the efforts have all been a bit half-arsed.

Curiosity finally got the better of us and we went via a Livingsocial voucher, which softened the blow a bit. Starter (potato skins), pulled pork for two with house fries and salad (£14). can’t complain for that, right?

pulled pork southbank grill (on flickr)

Just like with O de V, we were greeted with “do you have a voucher?”. I’m no expert, but this can’t be a sustainable business model, amiright? Despite it being “happy” hour, there were two other tables in. So we get cocktails b1g1f. They’re OK, but not worth the normal £6.95 sticker price.

Potato skins are surprisingly crunchy/decent, in a “haven’t eaten that since we were last in a £3.95 Italian restaurant” way. For dipping, garlic sauce echoes university kebab shops, while the BBQ isn’t bad, just overly sweet.

mac & cheese at southbank grill (on flickr)

The pork arrives. In a bit of a sorry bun. Incredibly hot. It’s OK. I had presumed it would be syrupy sweet, but it’s not, it’s mostly nothing with a slightly metallic undertone. The chips are homemade/edible but kinda greasy. The salad, and the mac and cheese (£3) we ordered on the side just make me feel a bit sad. They do ribs and steaks, but for “purveyors of fine grilled food”, we would take some persuading to come back to our “local”. A typically £46 bill comes to £24, and we shuffle off to the Bridge Tavern.

Anyway, we were honestly a bit late to the pulled pork party of 2012, but are making up for it this month, having had it about six times already. Here’s my decent recipe for it, which is just better. If you wanna contest that, come round and have some, it’s mint.

potato skins at southbank grill (on flickr)

Pulled pork (serves 8-10 decent sliders)

About 1.6-2kg bone-in pork shoulder. It was worth spending a tiny bit extra for it at Charlotte’s Butchery for better piggy flavour)

Rub/sauce: Smash together 2tb smoked paprika, 3ts salt, 2tb brown sugar, 1tb ground pepper with 1tb (any) oil. Add whatever you like (thyme? oregano?) but I like to keep it simple, and tasting of pork. Massage in. Better to marinate overnight, but fine to whack straight in the oven.

Get a good roasting tray, pour in 250ml apple juice, a quartered onion, and add the pork, wrapped well in tinfoil. Roast for five hours or as long as you bear the smell in your kitchen. Uncover and crisp up the crackling for 45 minutes or so. Leave to cool down for a minute and shred with fork, mixing in with the roasting juices. Try a forkful, and marvel in the porky loveliness. Finishing on the BBQ would take it even further. It’s better the next day.

Barbecue Sauce (makes 300ml-ish)

Properly caramelise 1 finely diced onion, 3-4 cloves garlic and 1tb brown sugar in a frying pan. Add and cook out 1ts smoked paprika. Add 30ml cider vinegar, and as much worcestershire sauce as you like. Reduce a little, then add 100ml tomato ketchup, cooking for another 10minutes until saucy. Stir in 1ts of coffee granules, and tabasco if you want a little heat.

Bread buns (makes 12. Recipe adapted from Blackfriars)

Sift 470g strong white flour, and 1ts salt into a bowl. Separately, feed your 1tb yeast with 1ts sugar, and 280ml hot water. Leave to foam for 5mins, then add 35ml rapeseed oil. Mix all together, then knead for 10 minutes until you have a lovely smooth dough. I like it fairly sticky. Prove until doubled in size, or in the fridge overnight. Knock back and form gently into twelve equal-ish balls. Leave to rise again for 20 minutes while the oven pre-heats to 220. Glaze with a beaten egg, and sprinkle some sesame seeds. Bake until golden, and feeling firm.

Coleslaw (makes a big bowl full)

Finely shred 1/4 each red and white cabbage, or substitute with celeriac. Slice 1 fat carrot as thinly as you can, or use a veg peeler to get long strands. Add to a colander and toss with 1ts salt, 1ts sugar, 1tb white wine winegar. Leave to soften over the sink for an hour. Then squeeze out any liquid and transfer to a bowl. Finely slice 2-3 spring onions, and add 1ts wholegrain mustard, 1tb parsley, and stir in 3-4tbsp mayonnaise. Best fresh.

Toast bun with butter, add coleslaw, top with pork and squirt on sauce. Dribble it all over, and have another two for yourself.

DIY Cost: each ~£1.80. Saved you a few quid there. Put it in the House of Tides savings pot.


Food hygiene: 5/5

Correct as of Feb 2014.

my pulled pork slider (on flickr)