I consider myself to be pretty lucky in that the client whose project I’ve been working on for the past few years is based out of Barbados. I’ve been able to visit the island a few times over the course of the project and on my first visit I stayed over the weekend to explore. I had two objectives– scuba diving and eating all the local food I could get my hands on. The client was nice enough to cater our meeting with an amazing local spread of fried flying fish, rice and peas, and a delicious bread pudding with Mount Gay rum sauce. After seeing how enthusiastic I was about dousing my food in the local Bajan hot sauce they thought I was ready for the ultimate in Bajan cuisine – Saturday pudding & souse!
I learned that pudding and souse is a special meal in Barbados that’s only served on Saturdays. The pudding is made from pig intestines that are cleaned and stuffed with a hash of sweet potatoes, pepper and several seasonings that are boiled to cook. I was a bit wary when I learned that historically pig’s blood was included in the pudding and was called ‘black pudding’ due to the color the blood gave it, but was put at ease when I was told that blood is rarely used in the pudding these days, hence the reason it is just called ‘pudding’. The souse is made of boiled pig’s head or feet that are chopped up and served with pickled onions, cucumbers, limes, peppers, and parsley.
The dive guides at Roger’s Scuba Shack (highly recommended if you are ever in Barbados!) were so excited that I wanted to try pudding & souse that they rode their bikes to a stand and brought back enough for all of us to eat. I could tell that the pudding was definitely not black pudding just based on the color and it tasted just like a well seasoned sweet potato hash – delicious! The souse looked more like pickled and cooked pork loin than pig’s head and feet to me so it was a lot easier to eat than I anticipated. It all went down pretty easily with a Banks beer while watching the Mr. Barbados Strongman Competition!
If you want to try this at home, here’s a recipe from Home Style Recipes from Cooks in Barbados book that I picked up while I was there:
For the Souse you will need:
- A pigs head and feet (or just several pounds of pork loin)
- 3 juicy limes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large ripe cucumbers
- 1-2 bunches parsley
- Hot red peppers (scotch bonnet preferred)
- 1 finely chopped onion
- Salt to taste (go easy)
For the Pudding you will need:
- 2 ½ lbs sweet potatoes
- 1 Tbl Sugar
- 1 or 2 onions according to size
- Small piece red pepper (scotch bonnet preferred) finely chopped
- 1 tsp salt + black pepper
- 1/8 tsp ground clove
- 1 Tbl butter
- 3 Tbl Bajan seasoning mix
- 1 cup water from cooking souse (if none, use milk)
- 3 Tbl fat from souse cooking water (if none, use butter)
Sprinkle pork with lime and salt, leave for 10 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Cook all meats in boiling water with bay leaves (to cut possible raw taste) and a few peppercorns until quite soft. If using pressure cooker, cook for 40-45 minutes and allow pressure to drop gradually.
Plunge meats into cold water for a few seconds then shackle the meat off bones, and reserve a little cooking liquid for sweet potato puddings.
Cut meat into 2 inch pieces, or as desired and place in a fairly deep glass or stainless steel bowl – never aluminum.
Make a pickle of lime juice, salt and water, lots of chopped cucumber, plenty of paper-thin onions, and a cautious amount of hot pepper, minutely chopped.
Smother meat with this mixture and steep souse unrefrigerated 2-3 hours (chilling will turn souse semi-hard and not at all pleasant).
Garnish with parsley.
Peel and grate potatoes. Chop onions finely. Mix all ingredients until thoroughly blended. Mixture should be soft as it dries out in cooking.
To bake: Pack in greased shallow ovenproof dish, dot with butter and bake at 350°. Check after 30 minutes for firmness.
To steam: Pack in greased bowl with fitted lid, or cover with triple-ply waxed paper securely tied. Place on rack in large vessel – water to cover bowl about half depth. Top up with water if needed.
Serve pudding and souse together with an ice-cold Banks beer!