Making morcilla de cebolla



Morcilla is Spanish black pudding made with onions. In Spain the killing of a pig is called the “matanza”. The usual thing to do immediately after the pig has been killed is to make some “embutidos” (sausages). The most common Spanish sausages are normally morcilla, chorizo and butifarra. In this post we are talking about morcilla. When a pig is killed it is normal to sever the blood vessels in the neck to allow the blood to escape. The heart keeps beating for a few seconds and it is possible to to collect the blood in a bowl.
The first few minutes are important in the processing of the blood. A pinch of salt added to the container to be used for collecting the blood will help stop the blood coagulating. You then need to very gently stir and squeeze the blood with your fingers until the fibrin forms together into a mesh after about 15 minutes. If you squeeze out and discard this clump of fibrin mesh, the blood can be kept in a container overnight and it will still be completely liquid the next day.

One pig will produce about 4 litres of blood. In order to make the black pudding, it is necessary to prepare 100kg of onions – two and a half 40kg sacks’ worth – and that’s one hell of a lot of onions. Luckily the onions you use are very big, not too strongly flavoured and perfect for morcilla. cebollas2The onions are peeled and then roughly chopped. It took about 4 hours to cook them once the cauldron had come to the boil. They needed to be stirred from time to time to stop them sticking to the bottom. cebollas1Once the onions are quite tender, they are put back into the sacks and drained overnight on racks with boards on top to get rid of any excess water. By the next day, they have changed colour completely and turned a dirty brown colour.

Now the fun begins.

The onions are finely chopped in a food processor. The first time we used the Magimix but were slowed down by having to stop and empty it after each batch so for the second one we used the coarse mincing blade on the Kenwood Chef. This was perfect and as you could leave it running, it didn’t take nearly as long.

The chopped onions are put back into the empty cauldron and then the other ingredients are added.

morcilla1 large loaf of bread “pan de hogaza”, thickly sliced
3 handfuls of cloves of garlic, peeled
2 plates of shelled almonds
1 string of dried red peppers

To prepare the ingredients for the morcilla, heat some oil in a large frying pan and then fry the slices of bread in batches until golden. Leave to cool and then break into pieces. Fry the red peppers in the same pan, cool and then tear into pieces. Fry the almonds in some oil in another frying pan. Remove to a plate and then fry the cloves of garlic.

Mince all of these cooked ingredients into the cauldron.

To buy the spices you need, you can assemble them yourself but it is by far easier to go to a specialised shop – a Casa de las Matanzas. There is one in the San Agustín market in Granada. All you need to do is tell them how many pigs you are killing and they will prepare the spices for you depending on whether you want to make morcilla or chorizo. A typical, traditional morcilla de cebolla spice mix includes oregano, aniseed, cinnamon, spicy paprika (or sweet paprika depending on what type you want to make), black pepper and cloves.

spicesYou then add the blood and mix well:

morcilla1For making morcilla, it’s best to use beef casing. These are stronger than the thinner hog  or sheep ones. Fill a bowl with cold water and squeeze some lemon juice in, adding the halves of lemon as well. Soak the casings until they are nice and soft and separate them out from each other. Run tap water through them. Cut into pieces and tie one end with a piece of cotton string. Hang each piece of casing over the side of the bowl so they can be easily picked up later.

The traditional embutidora or sausage filler is used to fill the black puddings.morcilla2

Each one is tied off at the other end …

morcilla2… and then pricked all the way through about 7 times with a thick needle so that they don’t burst or float when they are cooked:


They are then cooked in boiling water for 5 minutes. Again the cauldron was used and the morcilla were placed in the boiling water with their strings towards the outside of the pan so that they were easier to fish out. Each morcilla was then hung on a pole. They need to be dried for 24 hours before being put into the freezer and but can then be left to dry in a cool place for a couple of months until they are totally dry. This is a photo of them having dried for a day or two:



Migas con chorizo

Migas are basically fried breadcrumbs although they can also be made with semolina. But they are delicious! You can add whatever you like but traditionally they are eaten with chorizo, belly pork, garlic and melon. Sometimes sardines are added – it all depends on the time of the year and what you have available.

Soak three stale loaves of bread in water.

Cutting up the bread

Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and then fry quite a few squashed cloves of garlic with their skins on. Let them cook gently so that they soften without colouring. Add some sliced chorizo and fry for another couple of minutes before transferring to a plate.

Cut the bread into the pan to the size of small peas. Fry gently for 5-10 minutes. Season with salt and then return the garlic and chorizo to the pan.

Serve with melon and fried green peppers.

The final dish

Roast lamb

This is another recipe from “Economy Gastronomy” and was one of the most delicious ways of cooking lamb that I have found. The lamb is cooked very slowly in liquid so it is kept moist while roasting on top.The recipe inserted slivers of garlic and sprigs of rosemary into the lamb by piercing the shoulder with a sharp knife but Spanish lamb tends to be smaller so I just added the garlic to the pan.

1 shoulder lamb
5 cloves garlic
300ml meat stock (lamb or beef)
200ml red wine

Heat the oven to 200ºC. Put the shoulder of lamb into the pan with the garlic, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Put into the hot oven and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat down to 140ºC and pour over the stock and red wine and leave to cook for 2-3 hours. I probably left it to cook for two and a half before taking it out, covering it and leaving it to rest while I finished the other dishes. Before covering, pour off the juices and use these to make a delicious gravy by thickening with cornflour and adding more liquid if necessary.

Chicken casserole

Basically, you can chuck in any vegetables you like or have handy but here’s what I cooked yesterday.

1 leek, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 cloves garlic, sliced
some mushrooms
some frozen baby artichokes
some frozen butter beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
seasoned flour (salt, pepper, cumin, chilli powder, mixed herbs)
chicken pieces

Heat the oven to 180ºC
Coat the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour and fry in some oil in a casserole. Add all the other ingredients and another couple of dessert spoons of the seasoned flour. Add the chopped tomatoes and some chicken stock. Stir well and then put in the oven for about 90 minutes.

Beef curry with spinach

This recipe would work equally well with lamb – the secret is to cook it slowly and for a long time so that the meat is tender.

1 onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 cloves
8 cardamom pods
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
300g stewing steak
300g frozen spinach
4 pots yoghut

Heat some oil in a casserole on the top of the stove and add the whole spices. Fry for a couple of seconds and then add the onion and garlic. Fry on a moderate heat until soft and then add the meat, cumin, coriander, chilli and season with salt and pepper. Brown the meat. Add the yoghurt slowly and bring back to the boil, adding a couple of yoghurt pots of water. Add the frozen spinach.
Put into a pre-heated oven (160ºC) and cook for 3 hours. Serve with basmati rice.

Pork with green peppers and tomatoes

This recipe is my take on the dish served in the bar in the village.

At this time of year, it’s the perfect recipe to use up some of the tomatoes and green peppers on the huerta.

Up in the mountains I don’t have an oven so I used a pressure cooker but it could also be started off in a casserole and then put it in the oven.

I haven’t put any quantities, although I used about 8 large green peppers, a couple of kilos and a half of tomatoes and about 750g of shoulder pork.

Liquidize lots of tomatoes with some sugar, salt and pepper. Add some olive oil and reduce down until you get a thick tomato sauce.

Use a pressure cooker and fry a chopped onion in olive oil. Then add loads of chopped green peppers and fry for a further five minutes or so. Add the chopped shoulder of pork and a couple of spoons of the tomato mixture. Pressure cook for 10 minutes. When the tomato sauce has reduced down, add to the pork and season. Add some stock if necessary. Serve with new potatoes.

If I was going to put it in the oven, I’d make the tomato sauce first and then continue as before, cooking for about 90 minutes in a moderate oven. It would probably be a good idea to put in some small jackets potatoes at the same time.

When I spoke to the son of the man who cooked this in the bar, he said he didn’t add any stock and depending on the quality and flavour of the pork it might not be necessary.

Choto in sauce

We went round to our neighbour’s house this evening to ask about building work and they were in the middle of preparing a mountain goat. It was being cooked by one of the members of the “Peña de Caza” and would be taken down later for one of their reunions. They’d been authorised to shoot two young mountain goats to keep numbers down but in the end had only seen and shot one. There was a bit of a discussion about the recipe and whether beer should be added or not, but in the end only some water was added. Here’s the recipe.

Fry the onion in quite a lot of oil and then add the goat chopped into pieces and some chopped garlic. Fry for about 20 minutes, adding some water and more oil if necessary. After 20 minutes, add fresh chopped tomatoes, green peppers and seasoning and keep frying and cooking for another 30 minutes or so. Taste and test and adjust seasoning as  necessary. By the end of the cooking time, the goat was deliciously tender and quite well seasoned.

The idea is to serve the dish in its pot in the middle of the table with every one digging in with forks and mopping up the sauce with bread.

It was interesting that no stock was used – only water.