A Brief Introduction to Morcilla, the Spanish Black Blood Sausage

Morcilla de Burgos, made with rice
Morcilla de Burgos, made with rice | © PincasPhoto / Flickr

When shopping in a Spanish market, one of the first things you will notice is the vast and completely bewildering array of sausages from which to choose. With all colours, shapes and sizes imaginable for sale, how can you possibly know which type to try first? Shopping for sausages here, it turns out, requires doing a bit of homework. One variety that you need to know about is the black sausage called morcilla (pronounced mor-thee-ya), which is a Spanish blood sausage much like a black pudding. But even if you’re not a fan of the English breakfast staple, read on; Spain’s version of a black pudding is miles away from the slice you’re used to seeing with your fry-up.
It’s a spiced sausage with a gentle tang and a crumbly texture when cooked. Morcilla recipes vary across Spain – from the loose, rice-flecked morcilla found in Burgos to morcilla de arroz, the type made with onion and rice. The spiciest morcilla is made in the Valencia region, while in the north of Spain, it’s flavoured with aniseed and cloves.

Morcilla sausage with chantarelles

Morcilla is the first type of sausage to be made from the recently slaughtered pig. Once made, the sausages are usually boiled and then hung to cure. In cities such as Seville, however, morcilla dulce is eaten raw, and you’ll often find it served up in tapas bars.

It’s worth sourcing a good quality morcilla, but in Spain, this isn’t difficult – head for any local charcuterie or market hall. The sausages freeze well too, so it’s worth buying a big batch. When you get your morcilla home, you can fry it up with potatoes, topped with a poached egg and parsley, or toss it in a salad with lentils and finely chopped red onion.

Morcilla sausage can be used in all kinds of recipes

Another favourite way to serve morcilla, which you might see in tapas bars, is stuffing it into some squid or adding the smoked Asturian version of morcilla to bean- and vegetable-based stews such as the region’s famous fabada asturiana. Cooked morcilla crumbles, so it’s great for stirring through dishes and giving flavour to them without being overpowering.

In fact, if you’re one of those people who can’t stand the idea of black pudding, you could be converted by morcilla. Throughout Spain, it’s added to quite a few dishes for flavour, and you’ll probably eat it and enjoy the taste before even realising what it is! Whether you think you love or hate black pudding, give this local delicacy a chance on your next trip to Spain.

Morcilla de Burgos, made with rice

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