Tuesday, February 21, 2012

There will be blood

You can blame my cousin John for this.

I do.

The guy just had to go and tell me about the "pig's blood cookies" that our grandfather used to like so damned much.

I love my family, I do. But sometimes...

I'm not gonna torture you here, okay. I used real pig's blood in this dessert. There are pictures that I took along the way, but I'm not going to show them to you. (Hey, I put a lot of effort into attracting readers, not begging them to stay the hell away from me.)

What we'll do here is just stick to the facts and move along.

First of all, my cousin John's memory may not be entirely reliable. It's more likely that our grandfather enjoyed not a "blood cookie" but a blood pudding served with cookies. That's the way our Aunt Anna remembers it. And much as I respect my cousin, he would have been just a child at the time.

Tradition also supports my aunt's theory. A dessert known as sanguinaccio dolce (basically a blood pudding that's made to be sweet) goes back generations in Italian culture. And it is often served with some type of crisp cookie.

My version of sanguinaccio dolce is anything but traditional, in method or spirit. In my grandfather's day the blood used to make the pudding would have come from freshly slaughtered pigs, because it was considered wrong to waste any part of an animal killed for food. I got my pig's blood out of the freezer case at a local Asian market; it came from New Jersey. My motives weren't so honorable either: An unusual-sounding food became known to me (thanks to my rotten cousin) and so I simply had to try it.

I also learned that this pudding often is associated with Carnevale. And so today being the final day of the annual celebration ("Fat Tuesday" as it's know in the U.S.) I decided to make a batch of sanguinaccio dolce and get this whole matter behind me once and for all. I searched far and wide for a recipe but wound up winging it a little, just so that I could make as small a batch as I could.

I don't expect a single one of you to try making this. I doubt that I will again. Not because it doesn't taste good. It does. In fact, the taste is very rich, maybe even a bit too rich.

It's just that even the modern Italians have largely moved away from this ancient preparation, and I can't see a good reason why I would want to hold fast to it.

I'm not so sure my grandfather would have either.

Sanguinaccio Dolce

1 cup pig's blood
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup almonds, chopped fine
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped fine
1/2 cup dark chocolate
1/2 cup milk chocolate
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Run the blood through a sieve and then add it to the milk in a double boiler over medium heat.
Stir in the spices and sugar.
Add the nuts and the chocolate and stir.
When the pudding is the consistency of heavy cream remove it from the stovetop, pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
Serve in bowls with crisp cookies of your choice.


Thomas Henry Strenk said...

I hated that film. But I'd love to try the pudding.

Claudia said...

Yeah... I know vampires are all the rage... but I'm not very trendy. It is indeed rich looking - even pretty... and I stayed away from Blood Pudding in Ireland. But I'll vote anyway - cause somewhere inside me is someone who really does like your blog.

Mister Meatball said...

Thanks, C., I promise never to do this again.

Thomas Henry Strenk said...

When I was in Uruguay, I ate morcilla dulce, sweet blood sausages with raisins and pinenuts, served as part of a mixed grill of meats and sausages.

Mister Meatball said...

I think we're all alone on this one, Tommy.

Fred said...

Whew! I'm glad that's finally over. Clear the table, MM. Time to bring out a new course.

Mister Meatball said...

I hear you, Fred. A new course is coming today or tomorrow. Liquid, but not like this one.

Paola said...

I with you on this one, so many good dolci why make this one? I have vague memories from childhood - a big pot a red stuff bubbling away and then poured into the lining of a pig's stomach. augh!! Then memories of my dad slicing thin pieces and enjoying it very much??? It looked like a jello mold stuffed into a balloon. I'll have to check with my Zia Lucia as she still makes certain foods depending on what saint day it is. I'll let you know...

Thanks for your blog, it's really fun to read!

Mister Meatball said...

Thanks, Paola, let me know what you find out.

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Sanguinaccio dolce is another of my husband's childhood favorites as his Mom made it every pig slaughter. It is getting hard to find the fresh pig blood for sale -- it used to be available for sale at butcher shops but it is now against the law for them to sell it, or so we've been told. We go to Arthur Ave in the Bronx to buy it at a bakery during the Easter season.

Mister Meatball said...

Pat: Just when I thought I was out, you pull me back in!

Anonymous said...

I tasted this for the first when I was about 10 (late 60s early 70s). It was during a holiday visiting relatives in Italy. They gave us extra to bring back home (to the UK) and I couldn't wait to get stuck in. It was the most exquisite and memorable thing I have ever tasted. I know it had cocoa, I know it was sweet, I think it had raisins. That's all I can remember.
It was traditionally made around christmas when the weather was cold and the meat of the pig had less chance to spoil.
In England they have what is know as black pudding, a savory sausage made with pigs blood and lumps of fat. The memory of that first and only sanguinaccio was so ingrained that I would try to re-create it by adding sugar to my black pudding. Poor substitute indeed! Making sanguinaccio is a dying art in Italy since they have very strict rules on the sale of offal especially relating to pork. It is therefore impossible to find.
Thank you for taking me back to a bygone time!