What it is: Blood sausage, popular in many European countries, is made by cooking pork or beef blood with fillers (often meat, suet or another fat, barley, oatmeal and/or bread) until it congeals and is solid enough to hold together when cooled. It has a distinct flavor, not unlike liver (though milder)—and is sometimes accented with herbs and spices.
How I discovered it: At a midnight meal at Avec, a Chicago restaurant, my husband and I shared a big, warming bowl of house-made pasta with blood sausage, squid, radicchio, bacon and tomatoes, finished with chopped parsley and a dusting of crispy breadcrumbs. That one dish—a balance of sweet tomatoes, bitter radicchio and savory bacon, with a fresh squeeze of lemon acting as a bracing counterpoint to the rich sausage—was something that stood out in our three-day, 14-restaurant binge. When I found a package of blood sausage at the newly opened Paris Grocery, I decided to recreate the dish at home.
How to use it in the kitchen: It’s often served pan-fried or boiled, with mashed potatoes and caramelized apples on the side, and as a part of a full English breakfast—a plate that typically includes broiled tomato, bacon, blood sausage and fried eggs.
Where to find it: Paris Grocery (Pike Place Market, 1418 Western Ave. 206.682.0679), $8.99 for a package of five sausages.
Blood Sausage and Squid Pasta, with Bacon and Radicchio
4 strips thick-cut bacon, finely diced
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 medium shallot, finely minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 radicchio, stem removed and leaves chopped in 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 pound blood sausage, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/3 cup dry white wine
12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 pound squid cleaned, bodies sliced into 1/2-inch rings (tentacles, if using, can be left whole)
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
2 handfuls of chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 pound trofie pasta (or your favorite pasta shape) cooked and drained
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup toasted breadcrumbs, preferably panko
In a large skillet, brown the bacon on medium-high heat until crisp, about 3–4 minutes. Add the olive oil, garlic and shallots, stirring until the garlic turns golden. Add the thyme and radicchio, and cook until wilted and the edges just begin to brown.
Add the blood sausage to the pan, breaking it up into pieces with the spatula. Cook, stirring, for 4–5 minutes until the meat is thoroughly cooked. Deglaze the pan with the white wine. Add the chopped tomatoes and the squid to the pan. Cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes, until the squid is just tender. Season with kosher salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste, and add the sherry vinegar. Stir in the chopped parsley.
Add the cooked, drained pasta to the pan and toss until combined. Top each bowl of pasta with a squeeze of lemon, some chopped parsley and toasted breadcrumbs.