Seeing as the next StarChefs.com International Chef’s Congress is coming up in a little over a month, it seems high time to cover a remarkable event from last year’s Congress. Brad Farmerie, the Executive Chef at the Michelin starred restaurant PUBLIC as well as the restaurants Double Crown (closing 8/20/11) and Madame Geneva and, hosted “There Will Be Blood: Cooking with Life’s Essential Liquid”, a workshop in which he demonstrated techniques for making the red stuff a little more palatable. Before we could get our hands dirty, he explained a little bit of the culinary history of blood and what we would be doing with it that day. After the workshop, we all got to sample some delectable and surprisingly diverse treats that gave me a taste for more.
The workshop would be making black pudding out of venison blood because of its relatively unique flavor. Blood differs from animal to animal in its viscosity and flavor, much like the texture and flavor of a lamb chop differs from a pork chop. Farmerie ensured we use fresh blood for the occasion – he insisted that blood can spoil within two days without preservatives, but preserved with anti-coagulants and frozen it could last for up to twenty. The blood we used was a deep, rich red, similar to pomegranate seeds, but brighter.
Within two minutes of cooking in a ~150° bath (blood congeals anywhere from 138-176°), the blood sausages went from that deep red to a shade of brown that rivaled black. In addition to the blood, we added oats and barley to fill out the texture, while we seasoned the pudding with salt, black pepper, onions and garlic to give it additional flavor. Soon enough, the sausage was hard enough to serve, and with an open mind it proved to be delightful. When asked how the black sausage sold at his restaurant, Farmerie replied that it’s been available for five years. Although it was initially unsuccessful, people’s tastes have grown accustomed to the dish and it sells pretty well.
However, it wasn’t until the end of the presentation that we got to see how versatile blood can be in the kitchen. Farmerie had prepared blood bread, blood satay skewers, blood sauce for a foie dish, and he served up our blood sausage with some peppers in a baguette roll. Everything managed to have a totally different flavor to it, while still granting the satisfaction that what you were eating was somehow based on blood: The bread was topped with smoked salmon and cream cheese; the satay skewers were covered in chopped peanuts and had a nutty, chocolatey quality to them, the foie gras was made even richer but just as edible by the dabs of blood sauce, and the blood sausage was just phenomenal. It’s a shame more chefs aren’t using blood inventively like Brad Farmerie does, but given the bloody mess it leaves in a kitchen, this fact isn’t terribly surprising. Kudos to him, and kudos to Public.
For more on cooking with blood, see Chef Farmerie’s feature in Food Arts.