First, sorry for pouring you, in this story, a type of red (pictured on left) which is not exactly the one that you'd expect in this context...
Boudin noir or blood [sorry again] sausage is one of these very simple dishes that don't need a sophisticated training to prepare, but few home cooks actually venture into the real thing, although that's both very cheap and a sure way to get a product without preservatives and other food additives. We are going here to review again how simple this recipe really is, so that you can decide for yourself if you're up to the job.
This story took place in an undisclosed village of Touraine (Loire), and this bulk of blood sausage was intended for a village event, like my first wine-pairing story featuring this popular dish. You never know if the French or European food-safety police is watching, so anonymity is the best option.
I rode my motorcycle to a village and an address which I had been given to me by one of the guys on the pictures, an experienced kitchen master, and everything took place in an outbuilding behind the owner's house; it is amazing how much room you need when you begin to prepare a particular dish, and an outbuilding or an annex, a converted garage is perfect, you can put all the mess in there without bothering to clean it all before preparing dinner, and the cement floor is taken care of with a simple garden hose. Still, this cooking routine was a man's thing, women have probably enough work with the family needs to add this village treat. Plus, all this blood......
People in the French provinces used to kill their own pig and prepare meat products from it (something like twice a year if I'm right for a family) but now they buy the pork in supermarkets where of course you don't get the farm quality.
In certain seasons of the year (in winter if I remember) some supermarkets in the backcountry sell pork at very low prices like 1,5 € a kilo and that's usually when people revive their home butcher lab.
Here the meat was gorge de porc or pork throat, the label reads that the pig was raised in France and the figures indicate a price per kilo of 4,8 €.
You need to first slice the meat so that it can be funneled into the meat grinder along with the onions and parsil.
For a load of 50 kg of boudin noir at the end, you need to have 30 liters of blood, 25 kg of throat meat, 12 kg of onions, a big bowl of parsil and salt (12 grams per kilogram) plus pepper (3 grams per kilogram). Pork throat has lots of fat, I guess it's part of the interest of this meat cut for the dish, even though there may be more fat in industrially-raised pigs than in a pig raised in your backyard.
Forget your apprehension, you must put yur hands into this bloody stuff to really estimate the smoothness and readiness of the mixture. I personally have second thoughts about having my hands soaked in blood, not only because of disease transmission, but I'm not used to it.
Of course you washed the intestine beforehand under the tap, letting wather flow through it like a hose. I didn't shot a picture of this stage but that's strange to see this improvised water hose in your kitchen sink. I think they've been cleaned already anyway when you bought them but that's better to do it again. You can see on the right the outlook of these intestines when you purchase them. I hope that at this stage you haven't lost all desire to eat blood sausage in the foreseable future...
Some industrial blood sausage may be made with an alternative casing for more reliability and productivity reasons, but the real stuff is made using intestines and nobody got sick eating this kind of fresh charcuterie made from real ingredients. I didn't specify it but of course this dish is prepared without food additives, be it artificial casing, preservatives or taste enhancers.
The intestines are thin when empty (sorry for this allusion) and it's not that easy to bring the opening to the funnel's end iven if it's not that big. Gerard had to try several times each time before succeeding the operation, and he's an expert in the trade.
You can do this operation alone, alternatively pouring the almost-liquid mixture at the top of the funnel, and helping the thing go down the intestine by gravity, like you'd do to force-feed a goose (I need to write a story about foie gras to have some of you disgusted from the thing, it may bring down its price for us diehard fans).
Again, for this dish preparation you need to put your unease with blood aside because you have your hands soaked into it. I recognize that I'd had difficulty to make boudin noir myself, at least for the first time. Watching it and doing it are different things.
The blood sausage (boudin noir) is one of the oldest Gallic/French dish, but it is said to have been invented in ancient Greece. I read somewhere that during the Middle Ages it was a very common dish in French taverns, but the dish was then more spicy than today (today there are no spices actually), maybe to increase a bit its shelf life. The blood sausage is sait to have travelled all over the world, includding in England, particularly Scotland.
Some cultures like the muslim one forbid the eating of blood, but as it translates for them into yearly rituals of rejoicing while letting poor sheeps bleed to death in the bathtub without pre-stunning (and given the record of this culture in other bloody matters), I'm not sure I'll trust the no-eat-blood lobby...
At one point toward the end, you'll see how the intestines fill themselves by sheer gravity, the sausage looking like a snake moving through the metal plate.
All you had to do in the past was to hang the heavy thing in the fireplace and keep a quiet fire underneath, we're in a world where there was lots of time. Today you have these convenient gas burners and you can cook outdoor or in a side building so that your living quarters keep cool and without heavy smells.
These chaudrons (cauldrons) are sought after today and when you find some on the flea markets they're either holed or they are very expensive. You can find new chaudrons but they're even more expensive it seems (and smaller), and they don't have this clever multi-layer lid.
The water must keep short of boiling to be precise, it's not good to have it boiling because it can make the boudin burst. You cook it during something like 20 minutes, beware of not cooking it too long, it also could split apart the intestines.
Here our cook just lets the blood-sausage crown slide into the cauldron, the less you manipulate the thing the better chance you keep it whole.
You can add a few herbes de Provence and laurel leaves in the water to add a bit of taste. I think that the water can be salted too.
You can see that the color of the sausage has veered toward the brownish nuances we're familiar with. Another couronne is ready and this batch of 2 meters of boudin noir will join the others on the table.
The blood-sausage rolls were put together in home-made insulated cool boxes, complete with styrofoam in the inside, and a day or two later it would be lightly fried or panned and served at the village in question.
I hope that this photo story will help you realize that it takes just a bit of courage to decide make boudin noir yourself. The ingredients are affordable and you can freeze your culinary Art and serve it later, saying proudly to your bewildered party : "I did it myself..."
and you know what ? I feel closer to make my own boudin noir than my own wine, because if you miss you don't have to wait another year to try again.