There Will Be Blood
The kids are home for the summer and the rain shows no signs of ever stopping, so I have two words for all of you cooped-up parents out there: Boudin Noir. For many the dark, almost black sausage conjures up feelings of warm, comfy, home-cooked goodness. For others deep, dark, pure disgust. And for others still, utter confusion. "What is it? Blood?! I don't understand."
To those of you in this last category, I'm no Harold McGee, but let me explain briefly. You fill a sausage casing with blood, gently poach it in water; the blood coagulates, becomes solid, and voila, blood sausage. Couldn't be simpler.
So what will we need? Ingredients: A couple yards of natural hog casings, some ground mace and cloves, salt and pepper, an egg, a little cream, diced pork back fat, and about two quarts of pig's blood. Equipment: A large pot to poach the sausage, a mixing bowl, a whisk, a funnel and someone (who isn't squeamish or afraid to get a little messy) to hold the funnel.
Once this is all gathered, the process is easy and fun for all -- as long as you don't make the mistake I made on my first attempt.
Mix the raw ingredients in the bowl, tie off one end of the casing, stick the funnel in the other end and pour the ingredients into the casing. All pretty easy; that is, assuming the mouth on your funnel is wide enough for all the ingredients to pass through. (When it isn't, you end up spending 45 minutes using your finger to stuff chunks of fat and blood through a hole they were never meant to get through, inevitably losing your grip on the casing and spraying you and your happy little helpers with blood.) In any case, the mission is eventually accomplished.
Then, the sausage is poached gently until all the blood has coagulated, and the sausage is sautéed with butter, apples and thyme and comes out of the pan just in time for your spouse to return home out of the rain to find their happy little family looking like the offspring of the barber of Seville, with a delightful hearty meal ready on the table.