No waste. It’s a popular, if a somewhat abstractly understood concept in today’s foodie society. When you raise your own animals, it means something quite personal. Raising a pig requires 9-12 months of shoveling stinky poo, scratching backs, laughing at their antics, lugging old veggies from the garden for their dinner, dodging their teeth on occasion, ultimately coming to know the unique character of each in the midst of their overwhelming piggyess. Then it all culminates in killing and dividing each 200lb of carcass into usable pieces of meat. At the end of this kind of journey, the concept “no waste” takes on its true meaning, that is, not having to throw away any physical remnant of a being you’ve care deeply about.
Using it all on a backyard farm, generally means eating it all. This a challenge not easily achieved by American palates’. With a good bit of effort, I’ve found delicious culinary uses for most of what my animals yield: atriaux, headcheese, smoked trotters, leaf lard, still working on chicharron. I’ll share these throughout future blog entries, but I did get stuck on the blood.
On my visit to the Chapolard’s farm in Gascony France (see The Artisan’s Way), we made Boudin Noir, one of the more common ways to incorporate the liquid offal in a meal. But it seemed a daunting task to blend, case and boil these intimidatingly large blood sausages alone, in my comparatively little home kitchen. So timidly, at each harvest, I let the blood go down the drain. I managed to ignore the whole problem until, in the midst of this last hot summer, the blood residue left over from past harvests started to stink. Not terribly so, but just enough to goad me daily, daily, daily, into guilt.
Then, I stumble across the answer to my problem. Blutnudlen it’s called—pasta and rye flour, hydrated with pig’s blood and an egg, then rolled out and cut into flat noodles. I found it flipping through a sweet little book, A Passion for Pasta, by Carmela Sophia Sereno--with a name like that she must know what she’s talking about, about pasta anyway. Then, I started seeing it everywhere. In the same week, I found a version in Chris Cosentino’s book, Offal Good, and another in Saveur Magazine’s Fall Pasta Issue. All slightly different, but all stressing both the importance of using, and difficulty of getting, fresh pig blood for the dish to succeed. No more ways around it… fresh pig blood… no problem. Blutnudlen was my way out of the guilt. At my next harvest, my little pig’s blood went to good use.
Fortunately, Blutnudlen is delicious as well.
This pasta has a wintery flavor. A fettuccini-style cut, not too thick, keeps the powerful flavor of the noodle in balance with the sauce. It would pair well with any hearty red wine and any hunter-style sauce with a bit of acid in the base. I haven’t tried it yet, but I think cream, cabbage and caraway, would pick up the flavors of the rye flour and create a seductive contrast to the meaty flavor of the noodles. Check into Domenica Marchetti’s book, for her Savoy Cabbage, Cream and Caraway Sauce and many other wonderful recipes.
Believe me, no will know there is blood in this noodle, they will only wonder how you created such umami in the noodle itself!
- 1 cup “00” pasta flour
- 1 cup rye flour (preferably freshly milled)
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup fresh pig blood
- ½ tsp salt
Combine both flours together and tip them onto a wooden board.
Make a well in the center of the flour.
Crake the egg into a small bowl and whisk together with the pig’s blood. The blood may have coagulated a bit. If so, whisk and strain before you add to the egg.
Pour the egg/blood mixture in the well of flour and use a fork to combine.
Use your hands to form the pasta into a ball of dough and need it well for 5 minutes until soft and elastic.
Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes before rolling.