When I first had Blunz’n at a tavern in Austria I had a very narrow idea of what blood sausage was. Most of the blood sausage I had eaten before this moment I had made myself, following recipes in Ruhlman’s Charcuterie and the Au Pied de Cochon cookbook. These versions are simply pork blood studded with cubes of pork fat and onion. The Austrian Blunz’n before me was radically different: it was soft and moist, but closer in texture to a dumpling then boudin noir, and it was burgundy, not black.
Before I left Austria I got a Blunz’n recipe from one of my chaperones. I read through the recipe and thought there must have been some kind of miscommunication, as the ingredients list include “cracklings” and “pig head”.
Since then I have done a bit of reading, and Blunz’n is actually one incarnation of a broad style of blood sausages, variously called pressack, boudin, and so on. What is distinctive about this style is the inclusion of cooked meat and skin, usually from the head and trotters of the pig, that are ground or pulled and mixed into the sausage filling. The meat adds flavour and texture, and the skin a healthy dose of gelatin that helps to bind the interior. This is the “crackling” that was in my recipe that I found so confusing: not the crispy pig skin that North Americans are familiar with, but soft, poached pig skin.
While the meat and skin from the head are traditional, truthfully any fatty, slow-cooked meat can be used. One of the best blood sausages I ever had was made from leftover corned beef and beef blood.
Some manner of starch is added to the meat and skin, the exact ingredients varying widely from region to region and from house to house. Whole grains like barley and buckwheat are common. I was told that in Hungary they use rice. Where I was staying, in the grenzland between Lower Austria and Styria, they use stale bread.
Everything is combined and run through a grinder. The nexus of protein and starch, a strange but comforting unity of meat and dumpling.
Blunz’n – Austrian Blood Sausage – The Skeleton of a Recipe
- 1 part minced, sauteed onion
- 1 part bread
- 1 part pork stock or milk
- 3 parts cooked, chilled meat and skin
- 1 part pork blood
- salt and spices to taste
- Soak the bread in the stock or milk.
- Combine the soaked bread, onion, meat and skin and grind through a 1/4″ plate.
- Stir in blood to achieve a mashed potato consistency.
- Stuff the mixture into a broad casing (2-3″ in diameter) and poach gently to an internal temperature about 72°C.
- Let chill overnight before cutting.