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Swedish dinners: Blodpudding

Swedish dinners: Blodpudding
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  • Swedish dinners: Blodpudding

    Post #1 - April 23rd, 2007, 3:18 am
    Post #1 - April 23rd, 2007, 3:18 am Post #1 - April 23rd, 2007, 3:18 am
    As I was picking out a hare(oops! Sorry, I meant: hare) the other day at my local supermarket, I looked to its left and saw liters of frozen blood, cow blood to be precise. In true LTHForum-inspired behavior, I saw these frozen liters of red liquid as a personal challenge to me. I simply had to purchase some, I simply had to cook with it and I simply had to obsessively take photographs of my creation to post here.

    But, which Swedish dish does one make with blood?

    There are, actually, a few to choose from but my mind immediately concluded that “blodpudding” (or, blood pudding) was the dish to begin with.

    Blodpudding has, frankly, bothered me ever since I moved to Sweden over 10 years ago. I consider myself to be a fairly intrepid eater but it took me years to even taste blodpudding. I had a few reasons but it honestly wasn’t the blood content that bothered me. Firstly, the flavoring of blodpudding is, to my American tastes, somewhat odd. It tastes very much of gingerbread. Second, all blodpudding I’ve ever seen for sale in Sweden is a very industrial product. Just open a vacuum-sealed package, fry in a little fat and serve with lingonberries – not my idea of a great meal:

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    However, ever since my first son started eating solid food, blodpudding has been served at our table at least once a week (although primarily only to the children). It’s quick, easy, strangely non-challenging and an excellent source of iron for growing children. In the process of preparing these dinners, I’ve had small tastes of the blodpudding and grown to accept the flavor. The industrial nature of this product, though, I’ll never accept.

    That’s why I quickly assembled the following ingredients:

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    From left to right, top to bottom: Svagdricka* (about 2 cups), an onion (or two small), an apple, one quart of blood (pig or cow), 3 ½ cups of stoneground rye flour, one tablespoon salt, (I didn’t end up using the milk although some recipies use less svagdricka and a little milk), 5-6 oz. lard (home rendered - use butter if you can only find "industrial" lard), 1/3 cup brown sugar, half teaspoons of allspice, dried ginger, ground cloves and cinnamon, one teaspoon of marjoram.

    First off, what’s “Svagdricka”? The word literally translates to “weak drink” and the product reaches back to a time in Sweden when people didn’t drink water but mostly beer and/or spirits. Svagdricka is basically a sweetened, nearly alcohol-free, malty beer. It’s very similar to the “kvass” that is apparently so popular in Russia and the Baltic states. To my tastes, it’s not very tasty (although, with Coke Blak on the shelves in the States, Coke Pilsner can’t be too far off…) and the product, after hundreds of years of popularity, nearly disappeared during the 70’s.

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    Back to the blood…

    Start by finely dicing your onions and apple and sautéing them in your lard only until soft.

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    Next, pour the blood into a large mixing bowl and add the svagdricka.

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    This probably won’t be the last time I’ll mention this, but cooking with blood can be a little disconcerting. Case and point:

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    Anyway, add the rye flour to the blood/svagdricka mixture and whisk vigorously to prevent lumps.

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    Next, well, add everything else (the onions/lard/apples as well as the spices and salt) and mix.

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    You’re going to want to taste-test this mixture before going too much further. Heat a pan and add a few tablespoons of the mixture and fry up your very own blood pancake!

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    This batch tasted fine so I went ahead and poured the mixture into two, Teflon-coated bread pans.

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    Clean-up after cooking with blood can be a little, um, daunting:

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    However, 45 minutes and a quick call to the Wolf and things were looking much better.

    The “loaves” needed to bake in a water bath for about 1 1/2 hours at 300 degrees F.

    The test for doneness is much like the brownies they are rapidly resembling: an inserted toothpick should come out clean.

    Just passed the test:

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    Cool on a rack:

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    You’ll want to pop them out of their forms as soon as you can handle them to ensure that they don’t get stuck.

    For final preparation, the blodpudding should be sliced (anywhere for ¼- inch to ½-inch thick) and carefully warmed/sautéed in butter. A slow, ginger sauté will prevent burning and create a soft, juicy interior.

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    Serve with a few strips of bacon, a simple salad of grated carrots and shaved cabbage and lingonberry jam.

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    Was it good? Well, two out of three judges were pleased. My three year-old prefers the industrial version over Daddy’s “special” (for reference see: Eddie Murphy’s “McDonalds” from Raw), although my 5 year-old, perhaps seeing an opening for some brownie points, gave it a big thumbs up. The bits that made it into my 11 month-old’s mouth seemed to be savored.

    The flavor is, like many Swedish dishes, sweet and salty. The malt from the svagdricka is more pronounced in the homemade blodpudding than the industrial but compliments the spices and the subtle flavors of the blood nicely. I suggest using as course of a flour as possible as the small flakes and grains give the pudding a nice texture.


    *If anyone is actually contemplating making this dish in the States, a decent substitute would be good-quality apple cider mixed 50-50 with a decent, malty (but not overly hoppy) beer.
  • Post #2 - April 23rd, 2007, 7:11 am
    Post #2 - April 23rd, 2007, 7:11 am Post #2 - April 23rd, 2007, 7:11 am
    Bridgestone wrote:*If anyone is actually contemplating making this dish in the States, a decent substitute would be good-quality apple cider mixed 50-50 with a decent, malty (but not overly hoppy) beer.


    I wonder how svagdricka relates to malta? Malta isn't included in the "similar beverages" section of the Wikipedia entry on Kvass but then, neither is svagdricka. And the "manufacturing" section of the Kvass article describes something that sounds to me a lot like malta. I don't think malta is fermented at all, so if the light alcohol content is important to the flavor, it's probably not the thing. As noted elsewhere, malta tastes like unfermented wort used to make beer. If your cider recommendation is in part for the fruit flavors, then malta is probably not it either.

    Malta is easily found in Chicago at restaurants and markets which serve African and Caribbean communities.
    Joe G.

    "Whatever may be wrong with the world, at least it has some good things to eat." -- Cowboy Jack Clement
  • Post #3 - April 23rd, 2007, 7:20 am
    Post #3 - April 23rd, 2007, 7:20 am Post #3 - April 23rd, 2007, 7:20 am
    As usual, interesting and helpful advice, Joe.

    Malta seems like it could be very, very close to svagdricka - perhaps even the same thing. I suggested the apple cider/beer mixture not so much as a recreation of the flavor of svagdricka as that I've seen low-alcohol beer recommended as a substitute for svagdricka and thought that the cider would work well to impart sweetness and merge with the apple already in the dish.

    Thanks for the help!
  • Post #4 - April 23rd, 2007, 9:33 am
    Post #4 - April 23rd, 2007, 9:33 am Post #4 - April 23rd, 2007, 9:33 am
    Cuban and Puerto Rican maltas do, usually, have a very slight alcohol content (I thinlk the Goya label says .5% or so). My understanding it that it was developed by German brewers early in the last century as a cheap source of calories for places short on food. Cuban kids are given malta w/ condensed milk to fatten them up. Can't imagine getting more calories into one drink.
  • Post #5 - April 23rd, 2007, 1:44 pm
    Post #5 - April 23rd, 2007, 1:44 pm Post #5 - April 23rd, 2007, 1:44 pm
    Bridgestone wrote:Anyway, add the rye flour to the blood/svagdricka mixture and whisk vigorously to prevent lumps.

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    Next, well, add everything else (the onions/lard/apples as well as the spices and salt) and mix.

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    At this stage in your post, I was reminded of the bread-based porridge served in Babette's Feast:

    Strange and Weird Foods of the World wrote:Oellebroed
    (Denmark) Beer-bread. Oellebroed is a thick soup, almost a porridge, made from soaking stale Rugbroed Danish-style rye bread in water and boiling it in beer with some sugar. This is served hot with whipped or heavy cream. My mother once forced me to finish my oellebroed after I had told her I didn't like it. Big mistake! All over the table, the chairs and the floor, too. Served her right. I didn't like it at all. I can eat it now, but only homemade. It's available as a powder you stir into hot water, a la powdered mashed potatoes, and I suspect this was what my mother tried to get into me. I don't think it is disgusting at all, but you have to like the taste of beer and it's rich from the cream, warm and sweet, and this combination tends to make me nauseous. However, the dish was perfect for the fishermen in Babette's Feast because it was cheap, nutritious and very easy to make. But filmmakers are what filmmakers always were: it was the presentation and the sloppy way it was eaten that provided such a yucky appearance of oellebroed, especially when juxtaposed with Babette's haute cuisine.


    ***

    I am one of those who likes Kvass, which is made with leftover black bread and water left to ferment in its simplest form. Some of the Kvass sold in the 2-liter bottles isn't too bad. There are soup recipes with Kvass the major ingredient. If you haven't had it before, it can be in the acquired taste category.

    In Moscow, especially during Soviet times, there were Kvass dispensing machines with a single heavy thick glass universally used. One slot you pushed the upside down glass over a fountain rinsing the glass. You flipped it up, inserted your coin to fill the glass with Kvass. When you finished drinking then it was left upside down on the rinsing slot.

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - April 23rd, 2007, 8:21 pm
    Post #6 - April 23rd, 2007, 8:21 pm Post #6 - April 23rd, 2007, 8:21 pm
    Very interesting and educational! It must be pretty good for people who have low iron or are anemic... :)
    "There is no love sincerer than the love of food." - George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Irish writer.

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