Irish black pudding has definitely made a resurgence in the last few years – appearing on menus, aside from the traditional fry breakfast, as toppings on pizzas and salads, and in terrines, burger patties and more. So it comes as a surprise that nobody had thought of smoking it until now.
Hugh Maguire, a butcher from Meath with his own shop in Ashbourne, has recently pushed the boundaries of black pudding as we know it with his offering of smoked black pudding under the name The Smokin’ Butcher. Despite only being produced for eight months, the pudding has already been awarded the best tasting product out of over 12,000 entries in the Great Taste competition and also a 3 star award from Bord Bia’s Golden Fork event.
Coming from a farming background in Meath, Hugh developed an interest in meat and butchery from a young age, which is now reflected in his own family’s vocational choices in the food industry. Hugh spent years cultivating his craft in various butchers around Ireland before opening his own store in Navan in 1991, before moving to set up the store in Ashbourne in 2004.
The pudding contains no artificial ingredients or preservatives. The process of smoking itself, which was inspired by Hugh’s interest in Spanish, French and Italian smoked meats, involves fresh pig’s blood smoked over beechwood chippings for 45 minutes. He decided to try something different and bring an unusual black pudding to the Irish market. During the initial phase of experimentation “Ee smoked it to see what it would taste like”. Through his butchers, Hugh handed out samples to customers too see what their opinions were, “And the feedback was fantastic”.
Although a very traditional meat with a modern edge, Hugh believes that there is something special about it, and people’s attitudes have changed towards the simple breakfast sausage.
“This is a very versatile product – it can be used in some many different formats,” he explained. It would definitely appear that the industry takes The Smokin’ Butcher’s black pudding seriously also, as according to Hugh there have been an overwhelming amount of inquiries “Flooding in from the restaurant industry in London”.
Hugh stated that in terms of plans for the future, the focus of the business was the restaurant market in both Ireland and the UK. It definitely looks like Hugh has made a sizzle with his new twist on black pudding and opened it up to other markets.